Sunday, November 11, 2018

Curry Up King - Tasty German Street Food in Sarasota

Since I love sausages of all kinds, particularly German, I was delighted to learn about Curry Up King, which specializes in German street food.

Yesterday, a friend and I enjoyed a very nice lunch of their Berlin Curry Wurst. The sausage is bratwurst that is steamed, then fried, then sliced, and covered with the sauce,. The sauce is house-made with ketchup. curry powder, and paprika. They offer mild, medium, and spicy versions of the sauce. We chose the medium spiced version.

My friend had a side of fries and I had a side of German potato salad. A crispy roll was supposed to come with each dish. We did not get a roll and did not realize at the time that the roll was supposed to be part of the serving.  

The cost is $7 without a side and $10 with. 

I had a St. Pauli Girl German beer for $5.50.

According to their menu, Curry wurst was created by a Berlin woman in 1949, after she obtained curry powder and ketchup from British soldiers. She began selling it from a street stand, where it became extremely popular.

Among the other dishes they offer are:
- Nürnberger Bratwurst
- Schnitzel Sandwich
- Weisswurst and Bavarian pretzel
- Frankfurter Würstchen
- House-made apple strudel
- Two veggie dishes

You can find more details about these dishes at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthenticGermanStreetfood/menu/ 

Sides include french fries, German potato salad, sauerkraut, red cabbage, raw or spicy onions, and Bavarian pretzel.

They get their wurst from a German butcher in Ft. Myers.

The owner is from Berlin and the gentleman who served us is from Stuttgart.

The restaurant only has a few chairs inside and five or so shaded tables outside.

Food can be ordered to go.

You can find a $5 off $25 coupon at https://www.facebook.com/AuthenticGermanStreetfood/photos/p.278301696145535/278301696145535/?type=1&theater

The restaurant is located in Sarasota Commons mall at 935 N. Beneva Rd. in the upper left corner of the mall. Instead of the name on the outside, look for the word, "FOOD" in very large letters and "German "Street" in smaller letters. (Sarasota Commons is just north of Fruitville, and has a Post Office and a Publix.

My friend and I intend to return.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Great Crêperie in Montmartre - Sur la Route de Plouescat


On a recent trip to Paris, friends and I enjoyed incredible crêpes at Sur la Route de Plouescat (http://surlaroutedeplouescat.fr/en), a small crêperie in Montmartre. While there are lots of eateries near the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, this one is located at 4 Rue Lamarck, in a residential area to the right of the basilica where most tourists don't go.

The crêperie has an extensive crêpe menu with at least seventeen main-course, gluten-free, buckwheat crêpes and thirteen dessert wheat flour crêpes. In French, the buckwheat crêpes are known as galettes de sarrasin and the wheat flour crêpes as crêpes de froment. The galettes are originally from Upper Brittany and the crêpes – from Lower Brittany. (The name of the restaurant means, “On the Route to Plouescat.” Plouescat is a seaside resort town in Brittany.)

I had a crêpe complète (fried egg, ham, and cheese) plus onions for €8.80 ($10.30) and a glass of rosé from Provence for €4 ($4.68). My crêpe was fantastic and filling. 

The service was friendly and efficient.

The crêperie is fairly small. We found seats when we arrived around noon, but it quickly filled up. 

You can find pictures of the crêpes and reviews on TripAdvisor.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Jordan Food Mart - Nice Middle Eastern Grocery Store in Lakewood Ranch


I was quite surprised and delighted when I happened upon Jordan Food Mark, a really nice Middle Eastern grocery store, tucked away in a strip mall a few minutes away. 

They carry a terrific variety of Middle Eastern cookies, candies, pastries, breads, vegetables, cheeses, yoghurts, spices, olives, coffees, teas, etc., etc. They also have prepared dishes like several kinds of frozen kibbeh. Additionally, they have fresh meat pies, spinach pies, and cheese pies.

They don’t just have a single type of a given food, but they have variety. For example, there are different types of Syrian cheese, Armenian string cheese, hummus, and labneh, the Arabic yoghurt that is thicker than Greek yoghurt. In addition to hummus prepared by others, they make their own hummus.

They carry small hot-house type cucumbers, not the giant type found in supermarkets. These work much better for a single person like me to cut up and mix into the labneh with olive oil and lemon juice.

I’ve tried and enjoyed one type of pita bread, their home-made hummus, labneh, fresh meat pies, and Armenian string cheese.
They will grind fresh meats like lamb for making dishes like kibbeh.

The address is 6265 Lake Osprey Dr., Lakewood Ranch, FL. The phone nr. is 941-359-5999. Their Facebook page is at (https://www.facebook.com/pg/Jordan-Food-Mart-2059368204295795/posts/?ref=page_internal)

Friday, November 2, 2018

Using Paris Public Transportation - Tickets and a One-Week Pass


The terrific Paris public transportation system, which includes the Metro (subways), trains, and buses, has a number of ticket and pass options. I have used two and am familiar with a third. Purchases can be made with cash or credit cards. I used my U.S. credit card.

The first is an individual ticket, which costs €1.90. These can easily be purchased from a machine. I did not use this option. A single ticket can be used on a trip that involves a combination of Metro, train, and bus.

The second is a “carnet” of 10 individual Metro tickets for €14.90. That is cheaper than purchasing individual tickets at €1.90 per ticket. So it saves €4.10 on 10 tickets. I purchased the carnet from a ticket machine. I used the English menu option and I paid with my credit card. The tickets in a carnet can be shared with other travelers.

When using an individual ticket, you have to put it into a slot at an entry gate. It is validated and you retrieve it from another slot. You keep it with you. At some stations, you have to use it at the exit gate. At other stations, you simply push the gate open.

If a transportation system employee asks you to show a validated ticket, and you do not have one, you may be fined.

The third is a Navigó Decouverte pass. This is a one-week pass that only covers a specific 7-day period. It only starts at midnight on a Sunday night and continues through midnight the next Sunday night. This is an easy-to-use RFID card that you easily wave over a Metro entry gate. It opens the gate. It also opens exit gates. 

These cards are rechargeable.  The one-week charge is €22.80 and covers all five zones of the Paris transportation system, including the Metro, trains, and buses. It includes travel to Versailles, Charles de Gaulle Airport, and Disneyland Paris. The card itself costs a one-time fee of €5.

Since we arrived on a Friday, we used carnet tickets on Saturday and Sunday, and used our Navigó Decouverte pass starting on Monday morning

The card is made by the Metro employee at the ticket window. The Metro employee who helped me and my traveling companions spoke English and was very pleasant and helpful. To get the card requires a passport-like photo size 3 cm tall and 2.5 cm tall. The Metro station has a photo machine one can use to take the necessary photo. I created my photo with my smart phone at home and printed it on photo paper on my home printer. If the photo is a bit too large, the Metro employee will cut it to the right size.

My traveling companions used the photo machine at the Metro station to take their photos. It is much easier to do this at home rather than to waste time figuring out the machine.

I paid for the Navigó Decouverte pass with my credit card. We used our passes for a week, and never had a problem.

There are two different methods of entering a subway car. It depends on the car. Some have a green button on the door. You press that button. Others have a lever on the door. You simply lift the lever.

The employees at the ticket counter typically have nice, free maps of the Metro system. Simply ask for one.

The Google maps app on smart phones is great for using the Paris public transportation system. It provides all the info you need – which line to use, how many stops to go, where to transfer, etc., etc. It even indicates when a given station may be closed due to construction or some other problem.

There are great web sites that provide more detail than I have in this posting.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dinner with Alexis - A Wonderful Parisian Chef


Two friends and I recently had a great experience dining at the home of a terrific Parisian chef – Alexis. We arranged a dinner through EatWith (https://www.eatwith.com/ ), which facilitates local dining experiences in over 130 countries.

We chose Alexis for several reasons – the menu he offered, his reviews, and his location in Paris. We could not have made a better choice. He prepared a menu of French-style dishes with his own special touches. The food was terrific and Alexis was a marvelous host, with a great sense of humor. His residence was very spacious. My friends and I were joined by a delightful British couple.

Alexis served an incredible dinner of:
- Gougères – cheese puff pastries with Comté and Emmental cheeses
- Quenelles – a soup-like dish of goat cheese whipped with cream, with fresh tarragon and parsley, shallots, a hint of white burgundy, crispy chestnuts, and parsnips
- Roasted pork from Brittany, over potato galette (a savory potato pancake with garlic, nutmeg, and dried Provençal herbs), with roasted mushrooms, gravy infused with tarragon, and red wine sauce.
- Chocolate Ganache dessert with Jivara milk chocolate, infused with  coffee beans, with fresh pears, purée of pear with cardamom, meringue, and almond streusel.

The wines Alexis served were a 2017 Château de la Presle Sauvignon Blanc from the Touraine area and a 2015 Château Colbert Côtes de Bourg  Merlot – Cabernet Sauvignon – Cabernet Franc.

The cost of the meal was about $71 per person. I first set up an EatWith account, After that, I requested a specific evening. When that was confirmed, I paid in advance by credit card. One could cancel up to two days in advance and receive a refund.

The EatWith web site shows the locations of the chefs, the types of food they offer, the reviews, and the prices.

I highly recommend Alexis and the EatWith experience.

Monday, August 27, 2018

"Lamburger" - Middle Eastern Flavored Lamb Burger

Since I had some ground lamb, extra pita bread and other ingredients from a Levantine Arab meal I was preparing, I decided to make a burger using Middle Eastern flavors. It was very easy to make; and I was very happy with the results.

The recipe below is for a single large burger - half a pound. The size can easily be adjusted.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound or less of ground lamb
1/2 a large piece of pita bread
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 stalks green onions, sliced into small pieces
3-4 tablespoons labne (Lebanese-style yogurt) or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped cucumbers

Ingredient Notes
1. Labne is thicker than Greek yogurt, and is spreadable. There's lots of info about labne on the Internet. It's available at Middle Eastern grocery stores. I bought mine at Oasis Cafe, a Lebanese cafe and store on U.S. 41 just south of Bee Ridge in Sarasota. 
2. If possible, get really tasty pita from a place like Oasis Cafe, not  the pita found in supermarkets.
3. You could also add chopped fresh mint to the labne and cucumber topping.
4. To give the burger a bit of a kick, you could add 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne.

Preparation
1. Mix spices
2. Knead spices and green onion into lamb, and then form patty with indentation in the top.
3. Pour olive oil into skillet and heat skillet on medium for two-three minutes
4. Cook burger for about 5 minutes on each side for medium burger.
5. Place burger into pita bread.
6. Spread labne on top of burger; then sprinkle cucumber on top.
7. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Schwaige Restaurant & Beer Garden, Nymphenburg Palace, Munich

The restaurant - beer garden of the Schlosswirtschaft Schwaige at Nymphenburg Palace, Munich serves delicious, traditional Bavarian food in a very pleasant setting, with good service. It's a great place to have lunch or dinner during a visit to Nymphenburg Palace.We sat outside in  the beer garden with friends on a very pleasant late afternoon in July.

Our meal was terrific. My grandson had the the Munich Meatballs with Shallot Sauce and Potato Cucumber Salad (Münchner Fleischpflanzerl mit Schalottenjus und Kartoffelgurkensalat) for €13.20, and I had the filet of piglet with Port Wine Gravy, Ragout of Chanterelle Mushrooms, Leaks, and Peaches and Potato Horseradish Gnocchi (Spanferkelfilet mit Port-wein Jus auf Reherl-Pfirisch-Lauf-Ragout und Kartoffel Meerrettich Gnocchi) for  €20.90. 


Our dessert was an incredible cake – Royal Bavarian Kaiserschmarrn with Applesauce and Stewed Plums (Königlicher Bayerischer Kaiserschmarrn mit Apfelmus und Zwerschgenröster). This is a traditional Austrian and Bavarian dessert. The name Kaiserschmarrm means, “Emperor’s Mess.” The dessert is named for the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, who was very fond of it. It was a large, light, caramelized pancake with apple and plum sauce. A serving for two was €8.90.The serving was more than enough for two.

My grandson had a half liter of draft Hofbräu Helles beeer for €4.60. I had two glasses of the 2015 Peter Dolle Blauer Zweigelt Austrian red wine - a .2 L glass for €5.90 and a .1 L for €3.30. I had not had Austrian Zweigelt wine before visiting Germany. I had it several times while there, and really enjoyed it.

While we at the restaurant, the first part of a wedding reception was being held. They would later move inside for the main event.

The restaurant has menus in both German and English. The restaurant is not easy to find. It's at the southern edge of the palace, i.e., the side toward the left as you face the front of the palace.

Napulè, Sarasota - Terrific and Authentic Italian Food

There are lots of good Italian-American restaurants around, but very few that serve authentic Italian food that great and hard to find elsewhere in the area. Napulè (https://napulesarasota.com/) is one of the few. I had lunch there with a friend recently and can't wait to go back.

Many of the foods there are from southern Italy, but there are others from the center and the north as well. Their pizza oven is wood-fired. 

In addition to the evening menu, there are two types of sandwiches they offer only at lunch - panuozzi and ciabatta. I have never seen panuozzi sandwiches. This style of sandwich is from the Campania Region of Italy, which is in the southwest, where Naples and Sorrento are located. The bread is made from the restaurant's pizza dough. 

Napulè offers six types of panuozzi. I chose the Porcellino, which means, "Piggy." It contains porchetta, mushrooms, and smoked mozzarella, and sells for $10.95. Porchetta is a boneless pork roast with garlic, rosemary, fennel, and other herbs. In Italy, it is typically roasted over wood for at least 8 hours. Porchetta sandwiches are usually sold from white-painted food trucks. It is popular all-over Italy, but the Lazio and the Abruzzi are where it is most popular.

When I was in Umbria a few years ago, my wife, my niece, and I all had porchetta sandwiches from a food truck at an outdoor market. The sandwiches were incredible.

My Porcellino porchetta sandwich at Napulè was great!!!

I also had an order of Salame Felino, a special salami that is made in the town of Felino, just south of Parma in the Bologna region. The town is famous for its pork. It even has a pig statue in Charlie Chaplin park in the center of town. The Salame Felino, which cost $6.95, was terrific.

With my meal, I drank a 2015 red wine - Marramiero Dama - a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wine for $8.95 per glass. It was very nice.

I can't wait to go back and try some of their other menu items. I recommend checking out the menu on their web site.

Napulè is located on U.S. 41, a short distance south of Stickney Point Rd. Their parking lot is fairly small, but they have complimentary valet parking. It's best to have reservations for dinner.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Hotel Rothof Bogenhausen, Munich – Hard to Beat

My grandson and I recently had the good fortune to stay at the Hotel Rothof Bogenhausen (https://www.hotel-rothof.de/en/index.html) while on a recent trip to Munich. I was looking for a hotel that was not a chain hotel and that had a local feel; that was clean, comfortable, and reasonably priced; that was located near friends whom we were visiting; that had a nice breakfast; and that was near public transportation. On the basis of reviews and consulting with our friends,, I chose the Hotel Rothof. It exceeded all my expectations, thanks to the friendly and efficient team led by Hotel Manager Isolde Wolf-Speitzer and Assistant Manager Ahmed Ismail.
This four-story hotel is located in a park in the Bogenhausen area of Munich, and has its own beautiful sports complex where guests can work out. Ground floor rooms open out onto a beautiful green courtyard. Rooms on the next two floors have their own balconies.
                 View from the Room onto the Lanai

The breakfast buffet at the Hotel Rothof probably offers the best selection I’ve encountered at the many hotels I’ve stayed at on four continents. There were at least fifty different selections, including seven custom egg dishes, pastries, rolls, breads, yogurts, cereals, fruits, cheeses, cold cuts, hot sides, vegetables, juices, teas, coffees, etc. The eggs selections included a delicious Bavarian omelet (with sausages, of course). In pleasant weather, you can enjoy breakfast outside. I get hungry just thinking about it.
The hotel offers regular rooms and apartment-style rooms with kitchenettes. The rooms were recently renovated. Mine was kept spotlessly clean. The bed in my room was more comfortable than my bed at home. Like most hotels these days, free Wi-Fi is included.
The hotel is about a five-minute walk from the Richard-Strauss-Straẞe subway station , which is five stops away from Odeonsplatz in the heart of the old city of Munich. Near the subway is a large Aldi’s Süd supermarket. Every Thursday, there’s an interesting outdoor market at Rosenkavalierplatz, about a five-minute walk from the hotel. The market stands have beautiful selections of fruits and vegetables, meats, seafood, cheeses, olives, etc. It’s worth a visit to see a shopping option that’s available to locals. The hotel has its own restaurant and there are others a short walk away.
Key staff members speak fluent English, and all staff members are friendly and professional.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Delicious, Fast, 'n Easy Tomato-Basil Grouper

In my search for a fast and easy way to prepare the grouper I love, I found this very nice recipe for tomato-basil grouper at: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/grouper-with-tomato-and-basil-106744. It makes two servings and takes about 25 minutes total.

The only change I made was to use cherry tomatoes cut in half vice chopping a tomato. 

I purchased the grouper from the terrific seafood counter at the University Parkway Detwiler's Farm Market.

Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- A one-pound piece of grouper or red snapper fillet (3/4-inch thick), skinned and halved cross-wise. 
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped tomatoes
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil (FYI, it's easy to buy a small, potted basil plant at Publix or Home Depot and leave it to grow in the pot on your porch or lanai.)

Preparation
1. Put one tbsp olive oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet at medium high heat, and add fish, turning to coat on both sides. Arrange fish skinned side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Toss tomato, garlic, basil, remaining tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Cover skillet with a tight-fitting lid and cook over moderately high heat until just cooked through, about 8 minutes.