Acclimating to Life in Vienna: The Girly Book Club & VoiceMap Walking Tour

As many of you know, Robert and I moved to Vienna, Austria in early July! Vienna is his hometown so we’re surrounded by family and old friends, and we’re making new friends. It’s very good to be here and back in a big city. ♥

However, I must admit that I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in Vienna myself – just a few weeks here and there over the last few years. So, I’m a bit of a tourist in my own city!

Fortunately, there is a large American community (see the U.S. Americans in Vienna, Austria Facebook group, for example) and a large international English-speaking community (if you’re female, check out the Women of Vienna Facebook group) here.

I’ve done a couple of things to help acclimate myself to my surroundings and meet new people. The first thing I did was start a Girly Book Club (GBC) chapter here in Vienna called (obviously!) the Vienna Girly Book Club.

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I was a member of the chapter in Stuttgart, Germany for the last couple of years and really loved our monthly meetings and discussions. We read and discussed great books and I even made a few life-long friends (shout out to Sarah in Stuttgart and Lisa now in Berlin!) So, why not do the same here in Vienna, right?!

We all read the same book, selected by GBC, each month and we meet here in Vienna at phil (such a cool place in the 6th district near Naschmarkt – it’s part library, part bookstore with comfy couches, amazing drinks, and tasty food and homemade cakes) on the last Monday of each month at 19:00. There is a nominal fee of €5 to attend. If you’re interested in joining us, please join our Facebook group! We meet again on Monday, September 24th and we’ll be discussing Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, which won a National Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction. It sounds like a good one!

The second thing I did was seek out a good walking tour of the center of the city (the 1st district), all of the beautiful and touristy stuff that I figure I should know something about! 🙂 I tried and loved my Vienna walking tour with Alex (he’s the local English-speaking guide) at VoiceMap.

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The tour is unique in that it uses GPS to track your exact location and give you the information you need at any given point along the walking route. Very cool! If your phone signal or GPS isn’t working for whatever reason, no problem, you can simply follow the map and click on the icons you see when you arrive at designated spots along the tour. Super easy!

My Vienna walk started at the Opera House and ended at St. Stephen’s cathedral. It was 60 minutes in total. I loved that I could do this tour on my own, and on my own time and at my own pace. It’s totally okay to pause the tour if you want to grab lunch, take photos, do a little shopping, whatever. Personally, I took three breaks – one for a sausage, one for an ice cream, and the last for an iced latte. 🙂 And, I was able to pick up exactly where I left off, no problem. Alex even recommends stopping at a Würstelstand (“sausage box”) while you’re on your tour so there’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty about eating a very unhealthy sausage snack (he even tells you a bit about the history of the käsekrainer hot dog!) So, essentially you can make this walking tour into a food tour on your own – bonus!

Other than doing a lot of eating (!!!) I learned everything I really need to know about the Opera House, the Star Walk, Hotel Sacher and the famous Sacher torte, the Albertina Museum, St. Augustina’s Church, the Monument Against War and Fascism, the Donner Fountain, the Capuchin Church, Neuer Markt square, Kärntner Street, and last but certainly not least, St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Without sharing spoilers, I will never look at the facade of St. Stephen’s – or any other cathedral – in the same way again!

I didn’t take photos of everything, but here are are some photos I did take while on the walking tour:

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Opera House + Pink Rabbit
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Opera House
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Käsekrainer Hot Dog
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Monument Against War & Fascism
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St. Stephen’s Cathedral
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St. Stephen’s Cathedral
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St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Bottom line, definitely check out VoiceMap. They have this same kind of walking tour available in 120 cities across 47 countries. I’ll be in London in a couple of weeks and I’m already looking forward to the Camden Town: People Watching and Pigging Out tour! Download the free app in the App Store or Google Play, and happy walking!

 

 

 

 

Some Things I Love About Living In Germany

As we begin a new year and I celebrate 1.5 years in Germany, I thought it only appropriate to spend some time thinking about all of the things I love about my life here in Germany. (In case you missed it, I’ve already covered everything I miss about the U.S.)

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Recycling – Before moving to Germany, I recycled a bottle or can every once in a while. Now it’s my part-time job! We have yellow bags (gelber sack) for all plastic, aluminum, styrofoam, etc. which gets picked up every 3 weeks. We put all of our paper and cardboard in a special bin behind our house. We take all of our glass to the neighborhood recycling bin, or we return it to the store for a refund (pfand). The pfand applies to some plastic bottles as well. (Yes, it can be a bit complicated – I’m still learning!) We also have special bags in our kitchen for compost (bio), which we put into a special bin behind our house. It’s a lot, yes, but we generate very little garbage (restmüll). I have nightmares about visiting the U.S. and putting everything (yogurt containers, glass bottles, newspapers) into the trash!

Here’s what our neighborhood looks like the day before yellow bag pick-up:

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Butter, Milk, Eggs, Yogurt – I don’t know what it is, but the dairy products are so much better here! We do most of our grocery shopping at natural and organic supermarkets so perhaps that has something to do with it, but the dairy products here certainly beat out Whole Foods any day of the week. We eat farm fresh eggs (sometimes they’re still covered in feathers!) I’m a huge fan of all of the butter and cheese made by Kerrygold (thank you, Ireland!) They even make a nice sharp cheddar, which is a small miracle since cheddar is next-to-impossible to find here. I never really loved yogurt or ate it often before moving here, but I am now officially obsessed with this Söbbeke mango-vanilla kefir yogurt:

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They also make a peach-passion fruit yogurt, which is equally as tasty. Finally, the milk. I don’t drink a lot of milk, but do enjoy a splash in my coffee and in the occasional bowl of cereal. Since we use it so sparingly, we buy country milk (landmilch) or whole milk (vollmilch). It’s so creamy and delicious.

Bakeries – They’re on every corner and they’re loaded with fresh breads, pastries, and cakes. My neighborhood bakery even started making sesame bagels! Many Germans visit a bakery at least once a day to pick up their daily pretzel. Pretzels are serious business here. I even took a pretzel making course at Bäckerei Frank and earned a pretzel diploma! “Kaffee und Kuchen” (or “coffee and cake”) is also a popular tradition here and for that I head over to tarte & törtchen. They have the most beautiful and delicious pastries and desserts, and they make custom cakes if you need one for a special occasion.

Food Markets – The Markthalle is my favorite place in Stuttgart, and Feinkost Böhm is a close second. The Markthalle is a huge indoor food market where you can find just about anything – fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese from around the world, bread, wine, sweets, and all kinds of specialty foods and delicacies. It’s where I take all of my visitors from out of town, and where we do a lot of our grocery shopping. They also have several superb restaurants: Desiree for tapas, Marktstüble for German food, Empore for Italian, and a seafood/oyster bar for a quick bite. And, Feinkost Böhm hosts my favorite sushi spot, Sushi-Ya.

German Food: I was born and raised in Wisconsin so I’m definitely a steak-and-potatoes girl, and Germans love their meat and potatoes.  German food is heavy and that’s okay by me, especially in the cold winter months.

I’m a big fan of käsespätzle (similar to macaroni and cheese), maultaschen (a stuffed pasta “bag” similar to a ravioli), pretzels, and schnitzel (okay, schnitzel is technically Austrian, and my Austrian husband would kill me if I didn’t point this out!) I also really enjoy a rote wurst (red sausage) when at a barbecue or street festival.

My other favorite on-the-go bite is the leberkäse or fleischkäse sandwich, which is a slice of meat (similar to meatloaf) on semmel bread with a little spicy mustard. You can pick one up at the gas station, while shopping at OBI (Home Depot), at the butcher, at the grocery store, just about anywhere. They’re even better in Austria, where they add cheese to the meatloaf!

My favorite soup here is the frittatensuppe (or flädlesuppe), a beef broth with strips of pancake inside. And while technically Hungarian, we also eat a lot of gulasch here.

Finally, I love nothing more than eating something that requires a lot of little side dishes, sauces, etc. — I love having a lot of different flavors in the mix. Tafelspitz is just that kind of dish. It’s boiled beef or veal (very tender) served in a little broth and with the following dipping sauces: sour cream with chives, horseradish with minced apple, and apple sauce.

Although Munich/Bavaria is really home of the giant pork “knuckle,” (schweinshaxe) we do eat it here, and I love it. It’s definitely a dinner for two! It’s normally served with potatoes, cabbage, or bread dumplings.

For even more food pictures (not only German food, I promise!) follow along on Instagram @hungry.in.europe 🙂

dm – I miss Target terribly, but love dm almost as much. Like Target, it’s the kind of place where you go in planning to buy just one thing and end up walking out having spent hundreds of euros! Despite the usual household and personal items, I appreciate the large selection of health foods and snacks (non-dairy milk, müsli, seeds/nuts, etc.) I’m also in love with all things Balea, which is the dm-brand of shampoos, conditioners, body wash, hand soap, etc. Back home I never bought the store brand, but this is different. I mean, you can buy body wash that smells like rainbows, starlets, and little clouds!

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Rainbow body wash with starlets and little clouds

Location, location, location – Germany is in a great location in Europe in that it shares borders with France, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Denmark. With fast trains and cheap intercontinental flights, it’s possible to travel not-so-far and yet be in a whole new place. From here in Stuttgart, we can go to Strasbourg or Colmar (France) in less than 2 hours by car and to Paris in 3 hours by train. We have been known to make day trips just across the French border to gather supplies (bread, wine, cheese, foie gras). We can also easily make our way to Switzerland or Austria in just a few hours.

Infrastructure / Public Transportation – It’s no surprise that the infrastructure in the U.S. is in need of a major upgrade! And it’s really refreshing to live in a place where everything (the roads, bridges, tunnels) are seemingly brand new and really safe. I only take the U-Bahn (the local city train), which is clean, fast, and reliable — quite the change from my days commuting on the “L” in Chicago! I can also plan my route and purchase tickets from my phone (VVS app), which is super convenient.

Vitello Tonnato – Of course I ate a lot of Italian and Italian-American food in the States, but didn’t discover this gem until I moved here. Vitello tonnato (or veal tuna) is very thin slices of veal topped with a tuna-mayonnaise sauce. I admit that it sounds a bit peculiar, but promise you that it’s delicious.

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Vitello Tonnato at Bottega da Giulia

 

Dining Al Fresco – I love eating outside — at a restaurant, on a picnic, whatever — and Europeans know how to do this right. SO many restaurants have outdoor seating. I even see some people eating outside in the winter, when it seems too cold to be outside for any reason!

Foodora – Every great city needs a great food delivery company and ours is Foodora. (We also have Deliveroo, but Foodora is our go-to.) They deliver just about anything you might have a hankering for – sushi, pizza, burgers, tacos, spätzle, salads, etc.

Kaufmann’s Haut und Kinder Creme – I don’t know what you’re really supposed to use this stuff for (a baby’s bottom, perhaps?) but it makes an excellent lip balm. It was recommended to me by a German gal last winter so I have a feeling it’s also popular with the locals. 🙂

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(Almost) everyone speaks English  – I really appreciate this and try not to take it for granted. Yes, I have resolved to learn more German this year, but in the meantime I’m able to do all of the things I really need to do like have a bank account, go grocery shopping, dine out, belong to a book club, and even make a few German friends.

Mezzo Mix – I went to a wedding just after arrriving in Stuttgart and noticed some people at our dinner table mixing Fanta and Coke in the same glass. I was a bit confused. I mean, it seemed like a good idea, I’d just never thought about it or knew it was a “thing.” And, yes, it is a thing here. And it’s good. You can mix it on your own or you can buy Mezzo Mix (or other brand).

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Turkish Food – It’s everywhere. There is a döner store on just about every single corner. It is said that the döner kebap sandwich is the most popular street food in Germany. The sandwich is a warm pita filled with spit-roasted meat and loaded with lettuce, tomato, onion, cabbage, red chili flakes, and a garlic-yogurt sauce. My favorite is at Ützel Brützel.  We also have a really nice (and much more formal!) Turkish restaurant just around the corner from our home, Taverna Yol.

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Döner Kebap at Ützel Brützel

Architecture – Sure, Chicago has big shiny glass and steel buildings everywhere, but I really do appreciate living somewhere that is so old and has so much history. Last year I went on an architectural walking tour of my neighborhood, Stuttgart West, with a group from InterNations. Now I just have to keep reminding myself to look up – it’s where all of the interesting architectural details are found!

Expat Community – Because Stuttgart is home to Mercedes/Daimler, Bosch, and Porsche, a lot of people come here to work so there is a large expatriate community. I have met a lot of great people through InterNations, various Facebook expat groups, and the Stuttgart Girly Book Club. I also religiously follow two expat blogs: Living in Stuttgart and Room for Gelato. All of these things have helped me create a meaningful social life, and my life is richer because I have friends from all over the world – people just like me who left their home and moved here. ♥

Mineral Baths – Stuttgart has the second (behind Budapest) largest source of mineral water in Europe with 19 mineral springs providing 22 million liters of crystalline mineral water to the city each day. This mineral water is believed to have healing properties so mineral baths are very popular here, and they’re where I spend most of my summer days. My two favorite baths are DAS LEUZE and Mineral-Bad Berg (currently under construction, expected to re-open mid-2019).

Christmas Markets – This really needs no explanation and I’ve blogged all about the Finnish section of the market before. I think most people — definitely those of us in Germany! — know how special the Christmas markets are here. Although it’s cold, it is a great time to visit this country.

Eurovision? This has a question mark because I have yet to see Eurovision! I missed it last year, but have it on my calendar (May 8/10/12, 2018) for this year so that I don’t miss it. It’s the longest-running international song competition held among member countries of the European Broadcasting Unit. I learned about this wildly popular competition by reading Living in Stuttgart – thanks, Mel!

•••Fun facts! ABBA won Eurovision in 1974 and Celine Dion won in 1988.•••

Haribo – I mean, who doesn’t love gummy bears?! Yes, they come from here! And they make WAY more than just the gummy bear – they make just about every shape and flavor of gummy candy you can imagine.

Milka – I will take a Milka chocolate bar over Hershey any day of the week. Maybe it’s the alpenmilch (milk from happy cows in the Alps) that makes it so delicious. Whatever it is, it’s working. They come in so many different flavors – my favorites are Oreo, caramel, chocolate + crackers (tastes like a s’more!), and crispy with biscuit pieces.

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Marley Spoon – My husband and I love to cook and Marley Spoon has made meal prep and cooking a breeze over the last several months. Once a week we get a box with two dinners – it has all of the ingredients we need as well as an instruction card (it’s in German, but you can use Google Translate to read it online in English). The food itself is very tasty and healthy, and we have at least 10 recipes to choose from each week.

If you’re interested in giving Marley Spoon a try, let me know and I can provide you with a referral link – you will receive one box for free and we’ll receive one box for free. It’s a win-win. 🙂

We Are Knitters – I have wanted to learn to knit for the longest time, and now I can (well, kind of — it’s a work in progress!) I found this company, based out of the UK, that sends you everything you need (pattern, needles, yarn) to complete one knitting project (beanie, scarf, sweater, blanket, etc.) They make it really easy to learn with the instructions included, and offer additional support on their website. Here is my cat Cheeto wearing the Downtown Snood:

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Gift Wrap – Doesn’t sound so exciting, right?! Believe me, it is! When the holiday season begins and people start buying gifts, stores will offer to wrap your gifts (for free!) Really, it’s EVERY store. No more buying gift wrap for home, no more hiding gifts…because they’re already wrapped!

Birkenstock – I never thought I would fall in love with Birkenstocks. I always associated them with hippies or people who wear socks and sandals. Boy, was I wrong! They are SO very comfortable, and now you can buy so many different styles and colors that they’re actually quite cute. They also make a nice house shoe — I wear them when I need to run to the mailbox, do something on the balcony, take out the recycling. I’ve already got my eye on a new pair for the summer.

How about you? What do you love about Germany?? Am I missing something? 🙂 

Two Girls from Chicago go on a European Road Trip (Germany, France, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein)

A couple of weeks ago my good friend Kate from Chicago came to visit me in Germany! It was her first trip to Europe (well, not counting the UK) so we decided to do a little road trip so that we could see and experience a few different countries. We started here in Stuttgart, Germany and drove through France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and back through Germany before landing back in Stuttgart.

As I mentioned, we started at my home in Stuttgart Germany and spent a couple of days here. We spent the day walking around downtown — we visited the Markthalle, the Feuersee, and the Stiftskirche, and we had dinner at the Zum Spätzleschwob and Speisekammer West.

On day three we woke up early and headed to pick up our rental car and made the 2 hour drive from Stuttgart to Strasbourg, France. In Strasbourg, we stayed at a really cute Airbnb located right in the heart of downtown — highly recommend if you are in Strasbourg! We had a very nice lunch outside at Cavpona, a little spot just down the street from our apartment. I had the Quiche Lorraine. Drool.

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Strasbourg is so beautiful that we spent most of our time just walking around. Here are some photos from a day of exploring:

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The next morning we woke up, picked up our car (we parked at the Gare Wodli parking garage, which was priced reasonably at €20 for 24 hours) and made the 1-hour drive from Strasbourg to Colmar.

I must admit that I didn’t take many photos in Colmar because it was pouring rain much of the time we were there. But, it is very much like Strasbourg in that it’s absolutely charming, but much smaller. We stayed at the Hotel Turenne, which I would recommend as it is very close to Petit Venice (Little Venice district) and close to a great restaurant, L’Epicurien, where I had some pretty amazing foie gras:

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Oh, and we were in France for the election so here is a picture of me with Macron:

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The next morning, day five of the road trip, we woke up and drove 2 hours from Colmar to Lucerne, Switzerland. The drive itself was so beautiful. The landscape is just breathtaking. It’s so green and mountainous. And, Lucerne didn’t disappoint either! We stayed at the Ameron Hotel Flora, which is located right on Lake Lucerne near the main train station and modern art museum.

We arrived on a Sunday so most stores were not open so we spent a lot of time walking around, exploring, and taking pictures. The weather was really overcast while we were there so the pictures don’t really do it justice, but the alps are RIGHT THERE. Right behind all of those clouds. 🙂

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We stopped by the Des Alpes Hotel & Restaurant where I had some really delicious rösti topped with spinach, fried onions, roasted tomatoes, and an egg. Yum! Take me back!

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The next morning we woke up in Lucerne, did a little shopping and sightseeing in the morning, and then took a 1-hour boat tour around Lake Lucerne, which is really worth doing because you learn a bit about the lake and the history surrounding that area. And it’s just nice to be on the water!

Then, we jumped in our car and drove 3 hours from Lucerne to Triesenberg, Liechtenstein where we checked into the Hotel Oberland for the night. Since we were IN the mountains, the views here were by-far the best even though the weather was still overcast and rainy. Here is a shot Kate took from the hotel:

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Only about 2,500 people live in Triesenberg so it’s a very tiny place with not much happening when it’s raining! We were hoping to go hiking, but the conditions were unfortunately not in our favor. Instead, we treated ourselves to a nice dinner just down the street at Restaurant Edelweiss where we had traditional cuisine. Here’s a picture of the schnitzel with vegetables and french fries:

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The next morning, we woke up and made a 3-hour drive from Liechtenstein to Munich, Germany. München is one of my favorite places and it was so nice to share it with Kate! We spent the first day walking around and exploring (our favorite thing to do, can you tell?!) We visited the Viktualkeinmarkt, the Englischer Garten, the Chinesischer Turm Biergarten, Eisbachwelle (surfing wave), and (my new favorite place!) the cat cafe or Cafe Katzentempel. Me at the cat cafe:

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The following morning we woke up and made the drive back to Stuttgart, which took about 2 hours. We returned our trusty Ford Focus to the rental car company and made our way back to our apartment.

On our final day in Stuttgart, before Kate flew back to Chicago, we spent the day at Mineralbad Leuze. After such a whirlwind trip through four countries, a day of relaxation is exactly what we needed! We also had lunch and dinner (yes, we were there twice in one day!) at Trattoria Piloni in Stuttgart West and ate some tasty Greek food at Achillion.

All in all, it was such a wonderful trip! Kate and I learned that we make really great travel buddies — everything was so easy and natural and we were little chatterboxes and laughing the whole time! It was the best. 🙂

I ♥ you and miss you, Kate, and can’t wait to plan our next adventure!!

Mardis Gras, German Style

Today was the Fasching parade in Stuttgart. (Fasching is also known as Mardis Gras, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day, or Carnival.) Although I’ve celebrated Carnival in Italy a couple of times this was a first for me in Germany. Stuttgart holds the parade in the afternoon followed by a big party at the Dinkelacker brewery. The parade starts at 2pm at the Schlossplatz and runs through Planie, Karlsplatz, Rathaus, and ends at Tübinger Straße. The parade lasts about 2 hours and the party begins at 4pm. I’d recommend arriving about 30 minutes early if you want a spot up front as it does get busy. Or, as I learned today, reserve a table at the Cube restaurant and watch from above.

Unfortunately, today was really cold and rainy so not an ideal day for a parade, but I toughed it out until the very end! Since this was my first time I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I suppose I thought it would be magical and carnival-themed. Well, was I in for a surprise! The only thing that I can compare it to is American Halloween. It felt like I was at a Halloween parade in February. All of the kids were dressed up and brought little bags to fill up with candy being thrown by those in the parade. The creatures in the parade were creepy and scary. It was dark. Perhaps the weather was appropriate?! Anyway, I’ll let the photos tell the story:

See what I mean?? 🙂 This yellow guy took off my winter hat and rubbed his big piece of cheese on my head! While it wasn’t quite what I expected, it was really fun (especially for the kiddos) and I would definitely recommend going if you find yourself in Stuttgart this time of year.

And, while the parade wasn’t at all political, one group used their platform to take a jab at the newly elected U.S. President:

Good work, Germans. 🙂

The Architecture of Stuttgart West

I recently became involved with InterNations, an online community for expatriates and locals worldwide. In fact, I just became a Consul for the Feuersee Stammtisch (Fire Lake Regular Get-Together) group and hosted my first event last week — an African dinner for 12 people at Ebony. The event was well attended (11/12 showed, which I hear is very rare in a good way) and we had good conversation and ate very good food. My responsibility as Consul is to host at least one event per month. Next up: Classic English Afternoon Tea Time at the Althoff Hotel am Schlossgarten’s John Cranko Lounge on Sunday, March 26th.

On Sunday afternoon I attended an event planned by Harmut (“Harry”) who happens to live just around the corner from me. A group of us met at Harry’s apartment for a 2-hour walk and architectural tour of my neighborhood, Stuttgart West. I should start by saying that I know next to nothing about architecture, but the tour forced me to really look at the buildings around me and to look up, which is where most of the really interesting architectural elements can be found.

Harry called the event “Gründerzeit – Historismus -Jugendstil” which loosely translates to “Time – History – Art Nouveau.” (Jugendstil literally translates to “Youth Style” in German.) We saw examples of Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau architecture throughout the neighborhood. I should note that all of these buildings (the beautiful buildings!) were built before WWII. It is very clear, when walking down any German street, which buildings came before the war, and which were bombed and rebuilt after. The buildings that came after may be colorful (painted shades of pinks, blues, yellows) but they are very plain with flat facades made of concrete. Here I will share some photos from the afternoon, and I’ll start with my favorite building:

Here is a collage of typical buildings you’ll find in Stuttgart West:

Here is a now-school in my neighborhood that was built in 1900:

We saw so many animals! Frogs, Monkeys, Snakes, Elephants…

The Sankt Elisabeth Kirche:

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There are a few hidden green spaces, located behind apartment buildings, that can be used to plant a garden, play with kids on the playground, relax in the sun when the weather is nice, etc. Here are a couple of photos of one of these green spaces:

Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly enough green spaces! Instead, most of the space behind apartment buildings was used to house factories where people worked. Today, those old factories are where people call home:

We also walked through a little tunnel in Stuttgart West and climbed a couple hundred stairs for a sneak peak of the valley. I learned that this tunnel, at the time it was built, was the longest in Germany. Funny to think about now because it’s so little!

Finally, here are a few street views:

Thanks, Harry, for a great afternoon!

Dukatenschnitzerl

On Christmas Eve Robert and I feasted on fresh raw oysters, a fresh whole baked trout with lemon and herbs, and parsley potatoes before opening gifts in the evening. Unlike in the States, Germans (along with many other European countries) celebrate Christmas on the 24th, Christmas Eve, with a big family dinner and  gift exchange in the evening.

On Christmas Day we made dukatenschnitzerl, or little fried balls of pork and fried potatoes with a lemon-thyme salt and fried parsley. This dish reminds me of the classic British fish and chips dish, but pork instead of fish. (Is there honestly anything better than fried pork??!) It´s a classic Austrian dish. We used a recipe from the Wiener Küche cookbook by Susanne Zimmel. FYI:  “Dukaten” is an old word for “coin” and the pieces of pork and potato are roughly the size of coins, which is where this dish gets its name — “little coin schnitzel.”

First, here is a list of ingredients you will need:

  • Potatoes
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh parsley
  • Lemon
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt & Pepper

To get started, boil the potatoes until they are soft, about 30 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, remove a few sprigs of thyme from the stem.

Then, get out your mortar and pestle to make the lemon-thyme salt. First, place the thyme inside and add the zest of one lemon. Crush well. Then, add salt and pepper and crush well once more. (As you can see, we also added a few dried tomatoes because we had them, but these are not required.)

While the potatoes continue to boil, cut up the pork tenderloin into bite-sized pieces. Also, set up your flour-egg-breadcrumb station (from left to right) as you can see below. At this point, the potatoes are likely soft and can be removed from the boiling water. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit and are easy to handle, peel them and cut into bite-sized pieces as well.

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Pork tenderloin cut into small pieces
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Flour + Eggs + Breadcrumbs
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Boiled potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces

Next, put the butter and the lard (schmalz) into a big pot, which is what you will use to fry the pork, potatoes, and parsley. Allow the butter and lard to melt and then raise the temperature to 150ºC for frying. Add the potatoes to the pot with butter and lard and fry until they´re crunchy like french fries or chips.

Next, fry a few sprigs of fresh parsley in the same pot of hot butter and lard. Make sure to have a plate or bowl lined with paper towel nearby where you can deposit the potatoes, parsley, and ultimately the pork after frying so that any excess frying grease can be absorbed.

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Fried Potatoes
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Fried Parsley

Now, take the pork pieces and dip into the flour, then the eggs, and finally the breadcrumbs before placing into the frying pot. Be sure the butter-lard is still at 150ºC for frying. Fry the pork until golden brown in color.

Now that the potatoes, parsley, and pork has been fried you’re ready to assemble! We served our dinner in newspaper cones as if it were street food. Just load up the cone with pieces of the fried pork and fried potatoes and top with slices of lemon, the fried parsley, and the lemon-thyme salt …and bon appetit!

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Feinkost Panzer – Stuttgart West

One of my most favorite places in Stuttgart is located just around the corner from our apartment in Stuttgart West, a little shop called Feinkost Panzer. I mentioned this special place in a previous blog post, but finally got around to taking a few more pictures inside the store to share here.

The store is run by a tiny blonde woman, Theresia Panzer, and is modeled after a small  delicatessen she stumbled upon while in Paris, pictured here:

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Frau Panzer handpicks all of the items she sells, and it’s clear that she has great taste!  She sells a little bit of everything — fruit, vegetables, meats and cheeses, bread, pasta, chocolates and other sweets, wine, juice and soda, flowers, coffees and teas, oils and vinegars, jams, honey, and the list goes on and on. She’s even getting us a whole fish from the market tomorrow morning at 5am (!) for our Christmas dinner.

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Feinkost Panzer is also a stop on the Stuttgart West walking culinary tour. If you visit Stuttgart, be sure to visit this gem…and tell her that Dr. Ebner and Nicole sent you! 🙂

A Few Days in Hannover

Last week Robert had a conference in Hannover, Germany and I tagged along for the chance to spend a few days in another German city. Hannover is in the north so the weather wasn’t so great — very windy and rainy this time of year. We stayed right near the conference center at the Congress Hotel am Stadtpark, which is also very close to the Erlebnis Zoo and the Stadtpark (city park). Here’s a photo of the view from our room:

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We were three train stops (10 minutes) from downtown and the old part of the city, which is home to the annual Hannover Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market. I thought the Christmas market here in Stuttgart was big, but it’s nothing compared to Hannover! In fact, they have three different holiday markets throughout the city — one in the old historic district, one in the pedestrianized area downtown, and one near the main train station. We walked through the first two of three. There are over 150 stalls selling just about everything under the sun. And the lights and decorations are just spectacular!

The market in the historic old section of the city is like nothing I’ve seen before. It felt like we were in the Game of Thrones, no joke. It was very dark and medieval. There were no bright holiday lights or music. Instead there were fire throwers, ax throwers, fortune tellers, and all kinds of vendors selling mysterious potions and artifacts. Although a little spooky, this section of the market is not to be missed as it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. Also, right next to the medieval market is the Finnish Christmas market where you can enjoy flammlachs or slow-grilled salmon cooked over an open fire.

Finally, I can’t talk about our short trip without mentioning an unforgettable dinner. Thanks to Trip Advisor we found an amazing little family-run restaurant within walking distance of our hotel called Hindenburg Klassik. Highly recommend! We started with an amuse-bouche, compliments of the chef, a crab and herb roll filled with cucumber, tomato, and prosciutto. Next came a poached egg topped with fresh black truffle, three types of duck liver with poached pear, and for the main entree we shared a European sea bass (branzino) that was deboned and prepared tableside. I’m still thinking about that egg… 🙂

An American Thanksgiving in Germany

Robert and I hosted our second annual Thanksgiving dinner here in Stuttgart. We celebrated one day late, on Friday, November 25th and hosted 7 friends at our home.

(Long story short, our dinner last year was a total flop! I flew from Chicago to Stuttgart the night before and didn’t get really any sleep on the flight. Also, Robert worked a 24-hour shift the day before so we were both just beat. The only benefit of flying in just before the holiday last year was that I packed my suitcase to the brim with typical Thanksgiving ingredients that are very hard to find here — Stove Top stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy in a jar, etc. So, needless to say, this year everything we prepared was homemade and I’m happy to report that we really pulled it off!)

Here are photos of some of the decorations I was able to find on Amazon.de that we used to decorate our living room and dinner table:

As expected, I wasn’t able to find a whole lot of Thanksgiving decorations, but what I did find made our home feel festive and cozy — and a vast improvement over the simple white tablecloth and unsatisfying food we provided last year! Speaking of food, I didn’t take nearly enough photos as we were so busy preparing food and entertaining guests. However, a copy of the menu is above and here are a few photos along with links to recipes. I’ll say here that everything was really good and I’d highly recommend these recipes for any Thanksgiving gathering, or any occasion at all.

In the picture on the left, you can see the homemade slow cooker creamed corn and roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts with a honey-orange dressing and pomegranate seeds. I made both of these dishes the day before, refrigerated overnight, and reheated just before our guests arrived. On the right is our custom Herbstgold cake from the bakery down the street, torte & törtchen. Our friend Caro made a Manhattan cheesecake, which was delicious and reminded me of home.

We did a really typical and easy turkey — stuffed with lemons, celery, carrots, and herbs and then smothered with butter, salt, and pepper. Our bird was 7.5 kilograms bought at the Vogelsang Bio Markthalle for 150€. Super expensive, I know. I also know that it was fresh (killed the day before) and organic, but the price still shocked the both of us. My guess is that the butcher at this market probably doesn’t sell a whole lot of whole turkeys so perhaps they’re not sure how to price properly. We also did really easy mashed potatoes with milk, butter, and a little fresh nutmeg.

I used a handy chart that I found on Buzzfeed to prepare the stuffing. The only additional ingredient I added was bacon (10 slices) and I used dried rosemary and thyme because I couldn’t find fresh sage.

Robert made our appetizers. We had Liptauer, which is a spicy red pepper and cheese dip typical in Austria that he remembers eating often as a child. He also made bruschetta — one with cherry tomatoes and one with avocado.

Needless to say, we were all stuffed and I think we were successfully able to redeem ourselves from last year’s disaster! I think (and hope!) that they’ll all come back again to celebrate with us again next year. 🙂

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! I’m still wearing my fat pants… 🙂

Super Easy Stuffed Peppers

Last night Robert and I made really easy stuffed peppers. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Large bell peppers (we used red, green, and yellow)
  • Bulgar, cooked
  • Chickpeas
  • Fresh Chives
  • Feta Cheese

The easy recipe is as follows: cut the peppers in half and clean out the inside, in a bowl combine chives + bulgar + chickpeas and then use this mix to fully stuff each pepper, top with feta cheese and roast in the oven (we had our oven set at 200°C) for 15 minutes. Here is a picture of the peppers before they went in the oven and one after. ENJOY!