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…)


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

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?


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!









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


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.

Mexican Food?


I had my first Mexican food experience in Stuttgart this afternoon at a place called Sausalito’s downtown. I had their most basic nachos with melted cheese and jalapenos served with a little salsa and a little avocado cream sauce. It was underwhelming to say the least. However, I’m not giving up hope on this place — I hear they serve a very good American brunch and I’m already hankering for pancakes and Eggs Benedict. And, perhaps they have really great enchiladas that I missed out on. Fingers crossed!

(P.S. Chicago, I really miss your Mexican food.)




When in Germany…Spaetzle!

This gem of a place, Zum Spaetzleschwob, is just down the street from our apartment in Stuttgart West. They serve typical Swabian food like spaetzle (of course), roast beef with onions, potato salad, and dumplings. My favorite (again, of course) is the spaetzle. In my opinion, it’s even better than good old American macaroni and cheese, although similar. It’s a special noodle smothered in melted cheese, normally Emmentaler or Swiss cheese. It’s ooey gooey deliciousness.

Dinner at Speisekammer West

Speisekammer West is just steps from our apartment and was voted one of Stuttgart’s best restaurants for 2016, and for good reason. We were greeted with homemade ramp butter with bread from a local bakery, Backerei Bosch (I hear they have the best pretzels in town and plan to make a trip very soon to try one!) I enjoyed a cold cucumber soup with chives and house-made ravioli with goat cheese and lentils in a thyme butter sauce. Delish! Kostlich! While we were there on a rainy evening and sat inside, they do have a nice outdoor patio…and the menu is available in English!

Homemade Pasta & Tomato Sauce


Long, flat pasta always pairs well with a good tomato sauce. One of my all-time favorite tomato sauce recipes is by Marcella Hazan. And it’s so easy! Really, just three ingredients: tomatoes + butter + onion. I also added a couple cloves of garlic that I removed at the end with the onion. Oh, and don’t just discard the onion (as directed in the recipe) — eat it! It’s so soft and sweet and buttery. Finish with grated parmigiana reggiano. The noodles were handmade by Robert’s mother, which were perfect with the sauce.