Food

So last week I mentioned that we would not be partaking in any snow sports, as we were in the midst of a warm up that would make conditions less than ideal. Well, that warm up happened, as did some other things. So you won’t have to suffer through pics of us on the slopes this week.

Knowing that would happen, I asked for topics. A dear friend commented that I should talk about food, as it has been an ongoing discussion between us lately (and for many years).

A professionally trained chef*, she has some incredible insights to food preparation and use. Other education in psychology leads to a fascination with relationships with food, which is where our conversation has been going lately. And I think that’s where she wanted me to go with this post.

But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll just post a picture from several years ago. It was a great afternoon snack with Goddess. Until that point, I really disliked white wines, even as we lived in the heart of the white wine region of Germany. Then we had a proper chardonnay at a roadside café in Dijon, France, accompanied by some lovely escargot.

That buttery chardonnay was a wine changer for me.

It didn’t hurt that the afternoon light was perfect for a picture.

* She’ll protest that I called her a chef, insisting that she is not. But she is, especially to us lay-people. Besides, I have pictures of her, in an official setting, where she’s wearing her toque blanche. That’s good enough for me.

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Release Me

Yeah, I know I’ve been pretty quiet around these parts lately.  I’ve been in school the past couple of weeks, building a new bicycle (more on that later).  Those days are long and exhausting, starting right after sunrise and ending after sunset.

That puts a crimp on taking photos.

Plus, Goddess is doing her school work in the evenings and on the weekends, so we’re doing a lot of waving to each other as we pass in opposite directions.  Our schools are less than a block apart from the each other.

So in the evenings, I get home for what may or may not be 45 minutes with her to sit, have dinner and talk about whatever is going on.  Skinny gets fed during that time.

I know, because I see it.

But within two minutes of Goddess leaving for school, he tries to play me like a a kid would.  “Dad, I’m wasting away!  I haven’t been fed for DAYS!”.

It’s like clockwork every night.

He has become quite vocal in his protests.  It’s quite funny.

Although I try to teach him patience, he gets one last bit of dinner.  If I didn’t, we wouldn’t get any sleep.  Actually, Goddess wouldn’t.  I don’t hear Skinny at night.

Here’s a shot from last winter, from our living room in Germany.  Skinny has been served a portion of his dinner.  He’s just waiting to be released to scarf it down.

Release Me!

Truth be told, he does eat better than most humans.

He deserves it.

Important Formula

Spied whilst sipping on my favorite beer in Munich, really the only helles that I enjoy.

Important Formula

After a very short discussion on the importance of knowing the answer to the formula, much discussion followed on the flaws in the formula.

Or the highly disturbing implications, if the flaw was intentional.

Start

Well, it’s the start of the Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) season, so we went local, starting in our own town.

Actually here it’s an Adventsmarkt (Advent Market), only held on the weekend of Advent, which always coincides with our Thanksgiving weekend.

So after the turkey, it’s glühwein.

For the next month plus!

Whoo hooo!!!!

But our disappointment tonight with our local market was that the one thing we were really looking forward to, the butcher, didn’t happen.  He wasn’t there.

While we have access to quality butchers year ’round here, this guy and this time of year, is special.

Because we can get smoked horse meat.

Don’t get squeamish.  It’s incredible.

Absolutely incredible.

It’s even a delicacy in the regions around Venice, where we’ve paid a nice price for some amazing dishes.

But alas, he wasn’t here tonight.

So we’ll try again tomorrow.  Hopefully it’s not drizzling.

And maybe the merry-go-round will have more than just one kid riding it.

Weinachtsmarkt Zoom

Elf

Elf is the little character that found the truffles that we found so amazing.

Elf is a Lagotto Romagnolo, aka Romagno Water Dog, a breed of retriever.  At two years old, Elf is just a pup and had the energy and focus of one.  But Elf was definitely a work dog that loved what he was doing.

Elf

An impish little bugger, Elf was more than happy to snatch a bite of a truffle that he had discovered, or a whole one if his owner wasn’t paying too close attention or was far enough away to not reach him in time to save it.

Expensive Scooby snacks, to be sure.

Life Changing

There are certain simple things that we could go through life without experiencing and not be poorer for it.

There are certain simple things that we could go through life that, once experienced, we are much richer for it.

Like the taste of an Amarone or a Brunello, both of which are sublime.

Both of which I thought were the pinnacle of flavor for anything.

Until last month.

Goddess and I were lucky enough to be able to go on a truffle hunt just outside of Dijon, France, where we were led by a farmer and his gorgeous young Lagotto Romagnolo (Romagno Water Dog) pup, who was full of energy and lacked some of the focus that he’ll gain as he gets older.  The farmer explained that they switched from pigs to dogs for the hunt because the the pigs would eat the truffles.  But whenever the farmer wasn’t looking, the pup snatched a few truffles of his own.

Those were not cheap dog treats.

Yep, those truffles are €350 per kilogram.  That’s about $220 per pound!

After the hunt, where the pup found several black truffles, the farmer took us back to his farmhouse, which was more like a small castle than a farmhouse, and gave us a taste.  A lovely variety of truffle appetizers – truffle and liver paté, truffle and rabbit paté, truffle and duck paté, etc.

To say that the taste of a truffle is heavenly  would be severely understating the facts.

And that small taste was an experience for which we are richer.

So this past  Friday, Goddess and I joined some dear friends for a dinner in Heidelberg.  It was at quite a swanky joint that far surpassed any dining experience either of us had ever had.  Smack dab in the middle of the dinner, during the third of five courses, we were served a pigeon breast on a bed of pearl barley, covered with a truffle sauce and thin slices of the wonderful fungi.

Absolutely amazing.

Although we’ll continue to seek out truffles from time to time, I think that a bottle of Amarone or Brunello is more likely to be within reach.  But do yourself a favor and give truffles a try, if you can.

Yum

Goddess and I, half-jokingly, refer to our travels as “eating and drinking our way across Europe”.

But it’s all done European-style.  A small glass of the regional or local wine or beer (depending on the specialty) and a regional appetizer, both to get a feel for the local cuisine, but also to take a 30-45 minute break from our sightseeing.

We rarely rely on any transportation other than our feet, so a day of sightseeing may involve somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-8 miles of walking.

Although some cities (like Paris) require a reliance on the public transportation to whisk us from one neighborhood to another.

The best part of the walking is that we see parts of the cities and towns that most tourists would never see or experience.  You know, the small cafés with reasonable prices, the small memorials or the gorgeous, well-manicured homes that aren’t in the tourist book.  And we certainly get to enjoy the local hustle and bustle.

But I digress.

This wine bar wasn’t off the beaten track, but it sure was nice.  More trendy.  Slightly upscale.

But a nice spot to stop and get out of the rain for a moment.

To enjoy each other’s company, some impressive burgundy and a small tray of escargot.

Yum

While in Dijon, Goddess and I joked that we ate our weight in escargot, half a dozen at a time.

And no, we did not have any mustard.

Two Stars

One of the most important things about reuniting after being separated for six months is relaxing together.

What better way than to enjoy the warm noonday sun at a café in Verona, Italy?

Two Stars

I took shots of several different angles, several different glass (and shadow) positions.

Goddess was quite patient, but the patience only lasted so long.

“Are you done yet?  I’m thirsty!”

And yes, this table wine at this small little café was simply amazing.  I suspect it was a local Valpollicella.

Yum.