A big part of traveling, for me at least, is the food. I’ve seen some stuff written recently about Michelin starred restaurants in Germany, but that wasn’t what this trip was about. No, this time with family was more focused on home-style cooking a la Deutschland.
Wandering around Freiburg’s Munsterplatz earned us a delicious sausage sandwich from Meister’s food truck. Topped with beautifully browned onions and a dab of mustard, it was the perfect snack to tide us over until dinner. Next time I’m in Germany I hope to schedule an entire day in Freiburg eating, beginning with strong coffee and pretzel rolls smeared with unsalted butter. I hope to make lunch a leisurely enough event that it will effortlessly flow into the evening’s repast. I think the best way to accomplish this lofty goal would be to begin at the Munsterplatz’s food trucks with some version of wurst, washed down, naturally, with a fine hefeweizen or two.
For dinner, I plan to wander down to the Markthalle (food court) and sample as many different offerings as humanly possible. ”Food court” is a bit of a misnomer because this place is nothing like what you might find at Crossgates.
If the broom is out, they’re open!
It’s more like a German version of the restaurants at Eataly except the individual kiosks are each independent and devoted to an eclectic array of international cuisines. There are tables and central gathering spots where one can enjoy a bite to eat and/or a drink and there is a bustling sense of activity akin to that of a bee hive. That’s where I want to be.
Unless, of course, I’ve got wheels and get a little outside of the city and find a Straussen or Broom restaurant. We hit one of these last month in the Markgrafler wine region and thoroughly enjoyed the meal, the local wine and the cozy makeshift dining room in the winery’s tasting room. I had the Flammkuchen and it was delicious – and perfect with the local wine! Flammkuchen, or fire cake, is sort of like a pizza, but instead of tomato sauce, the top is spread with some sort of creamy yumminess. I had mine with diced veggies and it was a satisfying yet not too heavy dinner.
All this food talk and I still haven’t shared any images of our traditional Black Forest breakfasts…until I get to it, imagine plates holding meats and cheeses accompanied by a basket of freshly baked breads and rolls. Yes, save that thought and trust me, morning was definitely not anything to dread.
Sadly enough, I did not run when I was in Europe. Nope (or should I say “nein?), not even once. I did get some quality exercise walking good distances nearly every day, but my greatest exercise may have come from pacing myself when it came to beer and wine consumption. I wrote about getting exercise while on the road here.
Regrettably, I did not take a turn riding the mechanical bull, but more than 50 people did last Saturday at a super fun event at the City Beer Hall. Check out the photos here. The team representing The Standard restaurant stood out in my mind as the ones to beat, if only for their matching t-shirts and lively personalities. What a terrific fundraiser for The Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany! Keep your eyes open for this event to be repeated next year and start practicing with that thigh master machine you keep stored under the bed. It’ll help.
A fun couple who spent their honeymoon last year in Munich!
One of my sons asked me the other day who drinks more beer, the Irish or the Germans. Being the product of a German mother and an Irish father makes me an authority in his eyes, I suppose. My best answer was it depends what month of the year it is – and October belongs to the Germans.
Yesterday was the 4th annual North Albany Oktoberfest which is an awesome block party orchestrated by Matt Baumgartner and an array of participants and volunteers. It was my first time attending (I worked Saturdays for years and was unavailable for carousing at noon) and I absolutely loved the scene! There was a constant stream of bands, games that involved diverse skills such as goal scoring and boot drinking, entertainers, a variety of traditional German foods and dirndls and lederhosen. Oh – and dachshund races! Ya vol!
I generally identify as more Irish than German, but place me at an event like this and I get all “danke” and “bitte” as the long forgotten language of my childhood floats around in my brain on a puddle of beer. My German efficiency reared its kopf during my volunteer shift as I placed wristbands on attendees, snapped photos for the Times Union SEEN gallery* and managed to sample some bier from Wolff’s, all while trying to stay reasonably warm and dry on a windy and damp October day. With the promise of a hot bath in a clean tub to follow, I managed to rise to the challenge and I am so glad I was able to be a klein part of a super fun day.
A couple of random observations from my afternoon…
- That wheat beer that Matt gave me was deliciously strong. One was definitely the right number for me.
- The Mac and cheese from Wolff’s was kick ass good. Perfect to warm a body up on a rather dank day.
- Matt’s new enterprise, Sciortino’s Pizzeria, looks awesome! The diner is sparkling clean and filled with
personal, family touches. I’m sure the Browns are thrilled to see their former space treated with such care and
attention. And the tomato pie and chocolate cake looks crazy good!
- The crowd was upbeat, fun and self controlled – a great combination of characteristics for any large event.
- The Irish and Germans must be equally smart to have both chosen 31 day long months to celebrate their
* My photos are mixed in with another freelancer’s, Diana Hawkins.
For the second consecutive year, I headed down to Hunter Mountain to meet the guys and
listen to some music. Although I didn’t commit to getting a ticket until midweek, I had been eyeing the schedule for months. I ultimately decided that Sunday’s lineup was the most appealing to me despite my interest in seeing Ben Folds, who played on Saturday. Believe me, at this point in my life I’ve accepted that it simply isn’t possible to have everything and I wanted to check out Steve Winwood again after having seen him at The Egg a few years ago.
The impressive thunderstorms that rocked the DelSo failed to materialize in Hunter, but it did seem as if the threat of bad weather had discouraged some potential concert goers. Parking wasn’t too difficult and other than an inordinately long line for vegetarian fare, the wait for refreshments and bathrooms wasn’t unreasonable. The hillside was a bit treacherous, particularly to those who had overindulged (side note: If you were born pre-1990, and still haven’t learned to moderate your consumption, it’s time. Post-menopausal and falling down drunk are not a good look.), but a layer of straw helped provide traction and there was always the option of taking a $5 shower if one got particularly dirty. And speaking of dirty, could someone please explain the appeal of flip flops, or even bare feet, at one of these events? The thought of mud (or worse) between my toes simply skeeves me.
Here’s the bill we enjoyed. I didn’t get down there until about 4:00, which got me in right at the sweet spot of the Tedeschi Trucks Band. I must say, while I’ve always enjoyed Derek Trucks’ guitar skills, I wasn’t always impressed with the amount of soul he put into his playing. This show was an exception to his typical technician sort of playing and I loved watching he and the missus playing together. Franti was his usual wave of joyful sunshine, including a rainbow inducing close to his set, and Steve Winwood played with zeal and decades of experience, but I definitely found him more captivating in the small venue of The Egg.
All in all – a great day with some terrific musicians and a couple of even better than great friends.
On a recent sunny afternoon, I fulfilled one of my oldest son’s longstanding requests – we finally visited the FDR estate in the Hudson Valley’s Hyde Park
. He’s been wanting to visit this National Historic site for years. You see, he’s got a thing for FDR. Back in his trick or treating days he actually wanted to be Franklin for Halloween. I persuaded him to be Teddy instead, because we lacked a wheelchair, but his admiration of Franklin remained undeterred.
We headed south and exited the thruway in Catskill, opting for the scenic route down 9G on the east side of the Hudson. Along the way we passed numerous other historic sites, most notably Olana
, that have already made their way onto our summer calendar of things to do. During the highway portion of the drive, Liam watched a documentary on FDR on his iPad, agreeing to turn it off once we hit the rip Van Winkle bridge. When we arrived in Hyde Park, he was ready – prepped with new information about Franklin and excited for the tour. Tours are one hour in duration and cost $14 – kids 15 (Liam!) and under are free.
Our National Parks employee (ranger?) was a knowledgeable and patient guide to the property and I learned a lot about FDR, his family and his presidency. I mean, I knew he was our most longstanding president but didn’t realize he was an only child and had arrived late in his own father’s life. He had a fear of fire following a childhood incident in which he saw a young girl set aflame after an incident with an early generation hair straightening device and preferred to be on the ground floor when traveling. Franklin also enjoyed collecting stamps and birds and seemed to most enjoy being in the country as evidenced by this quote: “All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River.”
Kind of how I feel about New York City, I suppose.
|One of Frankllin’s wheelchairs
His home was considered a country home, and was not particularly fancy or formal. Especially in comparison to some of the more elaborate estates like the Vanderbilt’s spread. The original footprint of the house had been enlarged with wings built on both sides. A third floor, for the children, was also added. Both Eleanor and Franklin are buried on the property amongst a rose garden which was just showing signs of life on the spring day we visited.
We grabbed some lunch at the nearby Hyde Park Brewery
, where I enjoyed my burger and Winkle Lager. Liam and I agreed that our next visit to the area will center around the ladies, namely Eleanor and me, with an intended stop at Eleanor’s cottage, Val-Kill
and a meal at the Culinary Institute
. Who says history can’t be fun?
What a day I had on St. Patrick’s Day! I mean how can a colleen complain about a day that included a flat 4 mile run, a creamy pint of Guinness and a vivid voice from the past reminding me who I am?
My day started with The Running of the Green (Island).
I remember signing up for the race shortly after I participated in a 3.5 mile New Year’s Day run and thinking that 4 miles seemed an awfully
long way to run without stopping. Yesterday, though, between the camaraderie of a contingent of green-clad runners, the mild temperature, and the sun breaking through the clouds, it really wasn’t too far to go. And that was before Karen and I had decided to celebrate our efforts with a pint.
On a day which typically means excess, particularly in Albany, Karen and I knew we were only having one. Seriously, it wasn’t even noon – who the hell did we think we were? Our car pool rendezvous point had been the Corning Preserve parking lot so we headed over to the nearby Olde English
thinking (correctly) that we would beat the overindulgent crowd. This was the maiden visit for both of us and we couldn’t have been happier. Well, maybe if Matt had been there, but, that aside, it was the ideal spot and I very much look forward to returning on an occasion when I can sample a few more of the offerings.
And – that voice from the past? As is often the case, it came from the most unexpected place. I was tossing some crap out of my basement as I work towards being fully responsible for the condition of my home. There was a box of books that had been residing in the dankness of the cellar for a decade and a half and it was time to “discard”* them. As I removed one, a green envelope slipped out from between the swollen pages. Oddly enough it was a St. Patrick’s Day card I received in 1992, my senior year of college. I had spent the first three weeks of that particular year in Ireland getting to know my father’s family and was feeling very connected to my heritage. I returned to Albany with a new sense of self and an inner peace that I have done my best to nourish in the 20 years which have passed. The man who gave me the card had included some thoughtful words about my roots and my new found identity. While his words continued to touch me despite all the years which have gone by, what made the largest impact was my forced recollection of who I was then and who I want to be now.
The relationship I shared with that long ago man was romantic and passionate and filled with intensity. And doomed. There was no future in it and an observer to it once characterized it as creating more heat than light. She was right. But, as is consistent with all the human interactions we have, I learned from it and wouldn’t be the person I am today without that experience. On a day of firsts, a reminder from the past seemed oddly appropriate and I’ll be considering the message far longer than that delicious pint lasted.
*librarian talk for get rid of