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.

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.

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 ( 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 ( 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: 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.

- 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.)

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.