Posts Tagged ‘germany’

Chasing Spirits

Posted: October 8, 2018 in Blog
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German Alcohol

As mentioned in an earlier entry, I recently returned from a trip to Germany. Though my prior post was made as something of a satire, the visit was wonderful, though not without some challenges. I also learned a lot. That likely goes without saying, but I will elaborate.

Sushi is generally what I consider my favorite food. One thing I wanted to do in Germany was find out if they have good sushi. We just happened to find a small sushi place very close to the hotel in Frankfurt, so in we went.

We were the only customers, and the proprietor proved friendly. He was Asian, and he spoke at least three languages very well. One of those was English, as he had studied to be a sushi chef in the U.S. This afforded us a great opportunity to communicate. He took up station behind the bar to prepare our orders, and we chatted thoroughly. The fish was excellent, but what caught my interest was when he mentioned he liked to drink “cola weissen”.

Okay. You may likely be in the throes of a similar sort of quizzical reaction I had. Weiss is a type of beer in Germany, and the drink is a half & half mixture of said beer and Coca-Cola. Yep. That’s what it is, and your reaction may now be similar to mine. I honestly thought he was maybe having a tease at our expense, due to being American, but nope. We saw the drink on most menus of any place we went. It is not only a thing in Germany, but it seems to be a popular thing.

I remained skeptical, but my friend decided to try one. I dared to try some of his. Believe it or not, it was amazingly good. The two complement each other very well. The beer mitigates the potential overbearingness of the carbonation and sweetness of the cola; the soda has a similar effect on the brew’s bitterness, adding a sweet and tanginess that goes well with it. I was stunned … for a moment, then I drank more.

This was not the only interesting experience with alcohol.

It may come as no surprise that Germans do not put ice in their drinks like we do. This equates to quite a rarity of finding iced coffee anywhere. Of course, this doesn’t stop one from pouring hot coffee over ice, but I digress. There was a great little bar/lounge in one of the hotels we stayed in Frankfurt. The bartenders were accomplished mixologists, and I enjoyed just watching them ply their craft. I also noticed an iced coffee on the menu, so I ordered it. I don’t even recall what all went into the making, but it took a bit of time and presentation, and then voila, I had an exceptional iced coffee.

But it needed more.

So I mentioned adding some liquor.

The bartender got excited and said something along the lines of “Oh, yes. Dark rum.”

Wait a minute. Dark rum … in coffee? I suggested Bailey’s, and he countered that was boring. I was running along a mental list of things I have had in coffee that were good. He was resigned to give me what I wanted, but he was pushing the dark rum. There happened to be an American woman in the bar, too, and she and I had been talking. She heartily recommended the same, so I decided to give in. What the hell? It’s a vacation, right? An adventure.

Dark rum in coffee is amazing.

I cannot consider myself an expert on Germany just because I went there for two weeks, but I suspect the Germans don’t have the same idea of “spicy” as we do here in Texas. Currywurst is fairly popular in Germany. I like curry. I like German sausage. So, I wanted to give this a try.

We found a place in Nuremberg, and once they realized we were travelers from America, they were eager to please. They gave us two orders of the wurst and samplings of all six dipping sauces for the pommes frites. The woman behind the counter explained to me several times that this plate had the less spicy, more tangy option, and that plate was very spicy, so be careful.

The flavors were good. The food was good. It was not spicy.

Later on, we were having some drinks at a small rock pub (that was actually the name), and we got to talking with the locals about the lack of spice. They agreed, and then one guy brought up Mexicano shots. This left us suitably perplexed and curious, and after a quick exchange in German with the bartender, she ran off to fetch a round for all of us. The guy who ordered tried to explain that it was a sort of pre-mixed liquor concoction that was tomato-based and very spicy. Okay, we’ll see.

The shots arrived, and we all gave a cheers and downed them. The drink tasted like a Bloody Mary, and wow it was, indeed, spicy.

All in all, a wonderful exploration of different drinks, and I wholeheartedly encourage trying any of them. Danke schön, Deutschland!

Frankfurt at Night

I recently returned from a two week trip to Germany. I have always wanted to go there, and after years, nay decades, of meticulous planning, I finally went. I was surprised the large aeroplane did not shudder under my excitement, but I suppose those machines are made to deal with some measure of turbulence.

First stop – Heathrow. May I point out that Heathrow is not in Germany? It’s the major airport in London, in case you were wondering. Nothing but facts in this “report”. You may imagine the surprise when my travelling companion spotted Sir Richard Branson walking through the central seating area. He had no entourage, no guards, no photographers. I am not sure if his relevance has perhaps faded, or he was going incognito by hiding in plain sight, but assuredly, it was him. I think he even flashed a winning smile at me as I watched him walk by. He knew I knew. What a guy.

Then, as we queued up for our flight (you ‘queue’ in England; you “get in line” in America), we spotted Elton John! We noticed him right off the bat due to his amazingly ostentatious denim jacket. But then, why was he in the economy line? Hmmm. Curious.

Ah, Germany. The air was so much more breathable than the nearly liquid sludge of Houston. We stayed right on the River Main in Frankfurt and not too long into our journey, as we stood out front, James Woods walked by. Amazing! He must have been enjoying a holiday. He was alone, and we decided not to bother him. He did look a little introspective.

For breakfast on our second day, we decided to go to a café. We chose the Walden, which I highly recommend. I had the best cup of coffee ever. The service and food were wonderful. I suppose we were not the only ones who thought this, because there we saw Bruce Willis. He didn’t actually sit with us, and we did not bother him, but he was there. Honest.

As if this were not enough, a delivery truck was parked nearby, and the driver was tirelessly moving boxes upon boxes of coveted booze from place to place. This man was all business. Perhaps one of the hardest working delivery men, and does it come as any surprise that it was Dave Grohl!? He is perhaps one of the hardest working people in show business, and what does he do to disconnect and refresh? Why, he delivers booze to places in Germany. We saw him throughout the day all over the busy shopping and eating district of downtown Frankfurt. What a guy! Cheers, Dave.

Let me point out that during our breakfast, a bee was flitting about. Nothing too unusual, I suppose. It got a little rambunctious, and the proprietor came out and poured some sort of syrupy liquid into some flasks situated around the base of the nearby tree. “Not a trap,” he explained to our curious glances. I would think the various, bobbing corpses of bees in the sweet nectar may argue different, but I was in no mood to so engage.

The train stations in Germany are amazing. So much organized chaos, so many stores. There really is a reason some of the more impressive stations are called “shopping malls with trains”. We spent some decent time in the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, and it’s a good thing, too. We saw Brad Pitt wander by. He was with others, which should come as no surprise, but he really looked shorter in person than I expected. Of course, I am not sure what I expected. He did not notice me. Surely, that was expected.

As if that were not enough, we then saw Jude Law! He was all smiles, but we did not approach him. This trip was proving to be some sort of rapid-fire of celebrity sightings. I did mention this was Germany, yes? Not Los Angeles. Incidentally, I have been to Los Angeles. Celebrities sighted there? Zero.

The throng of people at the station gave me to notice that a good portion of them were wearing quite form-fitting pants. At first I noticed it mostly on young women, but then it seemed a good portion of the population, regardless of age or gender, were so adorned. The younger folk seemed to also sport tears in their jeans, and many of those wearing the eager denim also had them rolled up in tight cuffs at their ankles. We saw yoga pants, shiny spandex, leather, all sorts of tight pants. I will also say that the vast majority wore them well. Vast. Ahem. But enough of that.

From then on, a meal or drink outside was not without a buzzing visitor. It was odd, really, as there was always only one bee, and it would flit and zip from place to place. I had heard some mention of honey bees being endangered and how this may negatively affect our ecosystem. Go to Germany, I say, good sir! Go .. to .. Germany. A meal is not a meal without a bee overseeing said consumption. And a promenade is not a promenade without a plethora of people adorned in tight pants.

We settled into the almost casual seeming flow of people and vehicles. It was orderly. It wasn’t orderly. It was some sort of beautiful crash of both. Ancient and modern lashed together like those tight pa- … well, you get the picture. And during this flow, we happened onto a train in Nuremberg. We shared space for a brief time with none other than Peter Dinklage. I wanted to talk to him. I did. But I think he was trying to be sneaky. His hair and beard were darker than usual, and he was speaking German. I decided to respect his obvious bid for privacy. (Be sure to read the word “privacy” with a British accent. It works better.)

Unfortunately, that was the last of our celebrity sightings in Germany. I guess the stars go there for the room they are afforded. They can wander around like “normal” people without being swarmed as they might be in America. Kudos to them, I say. And why not in Germany? Where the coffee is iced and served with dark rum, pizzerias dot every corner along with amazing ice cream shoppes, and the bees … well, they are a’buzzin’.

Schönen Tag, y’all!