Meet Robert

Here are a few pictures of my husband, the mysterious “Robert” that I make mention of in several of my blog posts. He’s Austrian and from Vienna, but has been living and working in Germany for the last several years. We met in Vienna in June 2015 while I was on a solo travel trip (from Chicago) that took me to Prague, Vienna, and Paris. He was my personal tour guide in Vienna (nothing better than a local!), he followed me to Paris, and the rest is history. He’s the best. ♥

#marleyspooning

For the last couple of months Robert and I have been members of the meal kit delivery service, Marley Spoon. Each week we receive the ingredients for two different meals that we choose online from seven options. We pay 38€ for four meals each week. The meals are healthy, the ingredients are fresh and seasonal, and all meals can be prepared in just six steps. Also, all of the packaging can be recycled — paper, plastic, and sheep’s wool, which can go into the compost bin. The best thing, for me, about this delivery service is that all of the recipes are available online so I can use Google translate to read all of the recipes in English. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the ingredients are delivered to my doorstep each week and I can avoid climbing 4 flights of stairs with heavy groceries! Anyway, I’d highly recommend! Here are a few pictures of some of our recent dinners:

Roma & München

For the last week, Robert and I enjoyed some quality family time with my father and sister, both visiting us from the States (Chicago and Milwaukee, respectively). We spent a few days in Rome, Italy, a couple of days here in Stuttgart, and a final couple of days in Munich.

My dad rented a pretty amazing 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom Airbnb penthouse in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome. I didn’t take nearly enough photos of the interior to do it justice, but here is a view from our bedroom as well as a couple of more decorative (Hepburn & Chaplin) shots from the apartment:

The neighborhood (Trastevere) is the place to be when in Rome. Not only is it really cute and quaint — think narrow cobblestone streets with lots of green ivy, leafy trees, and clothes hanging on outdoor lines — but it’s also the go-to spot for shopping and dining in Rome. Oh, and did I fail to mention the street art?! Lots and lots of that too. Here are some pics:

I can’t talk about a trip to Rome (or Italy, for that matter) without including a few photos and words about the food. While I believe that all of the pasta and pizza, even at mediocre or unknown establishments, is much better than we have in the States or in Germany, two restaurants stood out: Pierluigi and Tavernaccia da Bruno. Pierlugi is known for their seafood, and for very good reason. Highly recommend! It’s also a bit off the beaten path and has a big outdoor patio in the warmer months. I read about Bruno in an article called The Pinnacle of Pasta:  The Top 9 Best Pasta Dishes in Rome by bon appétit online. Unfortunately, the night that we visited (Saturday) the famous lasagna was not available — our waiter explained that it’s only available on Sunday – FYI! Instead, I had the carbonara, which was not as satisfying since I had been dreaming about that lasagna for months. I love my eggs and bacon (carbonara) with spaghetti (typical) and instead it was served with a tube-like pasta, tortiglioni perhaps. So, word to the wise: visit Bruno on Sunday and order the famous baked lasagna. As promised, here is some food porn from Rome:

We also did a lot of walking around and saw a couple of the major sites: The Parthenon and the Trevi Fountain.

After a few nights in Rome, we headed back to Stuttgart for a couple of days. My sister stayed with us and we were so happy to host her! We weren’t here for long, but made enough time to visit the Schlossplatz, do some shopping, eat flammkuchen at La Tonneau, spatzle at Zum Spätzleschwob, and end our time here with a really nice dinner at Speisekammer West.

Next stop: Munich. We drove, instead of taking the train, which took about 2 hours from Stuttgart (we got lucky – no traffic!) We stayed at the beautiful Le Meridien hotel, which is located just across the street from the main train station. We spent most of our time walking around, shopping, and eating — no big surprise, I’m sure. 🙂 We had coffee at the famous Cafe Tambosi, walked through the Viktualienmarkt outdoor food market, and ate duck and pork shank at Augustiner Klosterwirt. I really love Munich and wish we could have spent more time there as there is so much more to explore. Here are a few photos from our time there:

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival

The first I heard of the world’s largest (yes, the world!) pumpkin festival was by reading this post by living in Stuttgart, a blog that I follow on Facebook and have found so very helpful in my first several months in Stuttgart. Then, as recommended, I headed over to the Kaffee und Kuchen blog to read even more about the festival. (Thanks, you two!!)

The festival’s main website is available in English and has everything you need before you make your visit. Don’t worry, it’s not too late! The festival runs through November 6th. The cost of entry (before 5:30pm) is 8,50 Euro. The theme this year is the circus (or Zirkus in German) and there was certainly no shortage of circus-themed pumpkin creatures and decorations!

Outside of these pumpkin sculptures, there are hundreds of different varieties of pumpkins to look at and buy. They’re all very well marked so that you know which ones are good for carving, baking, cooking, decoration, etc. We bought a few small bright orange ones (picture below) for soup, two larger orange ones for carving, and one tromboncino (it looks like a snake!) for baking sweets.

There are a lot of activities for both children and adults, including an entire walking adventure through different fairy tales, a labyrinth, and a hay/straw pit for the kids. Robert and I opted for the boat ride. It may have been a bit silly for two grown adults, but we enjoyed the ride. 🙂

Oh, and we did A LOT of eating. Everything there is pumpkin-involved, of course. We tried pumpkin soup topped with pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinegar, a pumpkin rice dish with veggies (fyi – rice was very undercooked), pumpkin flammkuchen, pumpkin bratwurst, and a vegetarian pumpkin burger. Outside of the rice, everything was very good. I believe the gourmet kitchens close at 5:30pm so make sure you plan accordingly!

We also saw the largest pumpkin in the world! It was grown in Belgium and weighs a whopping 1,190kg (over 2,500 pounds!) — essentially, it weighs about as much as a standard car. It wasn’t the prettiest thing to look at, but it’s pretty amazing that a vegetable can grow so very big! (Sorry, this picture doesn’t really do it justice…)

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Last, but not least, I failed to mention that this festival is on the grounds of Schloss Ludwigsburg, or the castle of Ludwigsburg. The castle is beautiful and the acres and acres of gardens surrounding the castle are just stunning. It would be worth a visit even without the pumpkin festival. Here is a collage of the some of my nature pictures, along with a picture of the castle itself:

Bottom line: If you live in Stuttgart or anywhere near Ludwigsburg, definitely check out this festival. This will now become an annual event for us. We drove from Stuttgart and it took us just 30 minutes on the B27. And, what’s even better is that we brought home pumpkin juice, homemade pumpkin bread, we have two pumpkins to carve, and will soon be making pumpkin soup and pumpkin muffins. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

RIVA Stuttgart

For the last year or so Goldoni has been our go-to Italian restaurant in Stuttgart. However, I just discovered Riva and I’m in love and, better yet, it’s in our neighborhood (West) so just a walk away. The antipasti platter is so fresh and delicious and the lasagna was some of the best I’ve had, and I’ve had a lot of lasagna in my days! Highly recommend! Riva is located at Senefelderstrasse 21 in Stuttgart West. Their website seems to be down at the moment, but the location is riva-stuttgart.de.

A Wedding in Austria

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Schloss Weinberg Castle in Kefermarkt, Austria
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Lake in Sandl, Austria

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Danube River in Linz, Austria

A few weeks ago, Robert and I made a trip to Austria (his homeland) for his friend Oliver’s wedding. We stayed in a castle (yes, a real castle!!) called the Schloss Weinberg in Kefermarkt. Of course I ate a weiner schnitzel (when in Rome, as they say…) We saw old friends and I was introduced to many new friends, most of whom live in Vienna (we will get there one day!) The ceremony was in a beautiful church and the reception dinner filled us up with typical and tasty Austrian cuisine. We went swimming in a (freezing cold!) lake in a nearby village (Sandl) and made a stop on our way home to Stuttgart to take a dip in the Danube (also freezing) in Linz. I’m still amazed at how many different countries, cultures, languages, and cuisines we can reach by car in just a matter of hours. I mean, just a month ago we were in France and it took us just 1.5 hours to drive there. I feel like a very lucky and spoiled girl…and I’m loving and appreciating every single moment of it.

The Lake of Fire

There is a beautiful cathedral surrounded by the Feuersee or “Fire Lake” not too far from our apartment.

We really like a tapas spot called Rote Kapelle (or Red Chapel) — they have a large outdoor patio and are located just across the street.

I’m not quite sure why this place is called the Fire Lake. Robert thinks this may have been where the fire department came to get their water years and years ago. So that’s one theory?

Wolfgangsee

Robert and I spent a long weekend at the Wolfgangsee in Austria for my birthday. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Im Weissen Rossl (The White Horse Inn). We took a boat cruise, rented a paddle boat, spent a lot of time lounging around by the pool, ate a lot of schnitzel (duh!), and just generally had a really relaxing and much-needed getaway.

Oh, and I got my first dirndl, which is a traditional Austrian dress. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would wear one, let alone own one!

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Pesto!

Our basil plant is thriving so last night we made homemade pesto. We used Jamie Oliver‘s recipe for Risotto Bianco con Pesto — a really easy recipe that requires only arborio rice, celery, onion, garlic, butter, cheese, broth (we used chicken, but any will do), pine nuts, and a dollop of fresh pesto. Now, we’ve got to figure out what to do with the chives!

A Very Warm Welcome

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This photo is from a few weeks ago just after Robert and I arrived in Stuttgart. We received such a warm welcome from these great people! I was lucky to meet all of them last summer during my first visit to Stuttgart and we’ve spent time together each time I’ve been in town. (We even celebrated an American Thanksgiving together here in November — the food was a total disaster, but the company more than made up for it.) Not only did they arrange this special dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, Goldoni, but they gave us a great big basket filled with chocolates, champagne, tea, spatzle noodles, and flowers.