Winding down Brian and Mikey’s trip

Just one day left of Brian and Mikey’s trip to come hang out with us. Today it’s looking pretty, well, undefined, weather-wise. We were hoping to give them our home-grown walking tour of Regensburg (somehow they’ve only gotten bits and pieces from trips to the train station or grocery store). Yesterday we bopped around Munich, starting with the *Wies’n* (Oktoberfest for the uninitiated) and had a nice lunch inside the Hacker-Pschorr tent.


These are my favorite ones though:

we’re back from our mission to Austria and Italy

Watch this space for the pictures.

Here are the bullet points:

  • Road trip from Regensburg to Innsbruck, Austria
  • Overnight stay in the historic old quarter there at a great hotel that was quite tricky to find (parking separate from the building itself)
  • Continued drive to a beautiful B&B outside of Verona, Italy — big story about finding this place
  • Big let-down in Verona, Italy
  • Italian grocery shopping trip
  • Long drive back

Gasthof Humler Hof

The Joint

Fam. Kirchmair
Nößlach 483
A – 6156 Gries am Brenner
Phone: +43 – (0)5274 / 87 500 Fax: +43 – (0)5274 / 87 500-22

http://www.humlerhof.com/

Cliff

Austria Alps I thought it was really nice of them to serve us lunch at an obviously weird hour — we were the only ones making use of the restaurant (must have been smack in the middle of the big break between normal lunch and dinner hours). The Schnitzel with mushroom cream sauce was nice, and though I would have preferred fresh mushrooms to the canned ones, it was still pretty good. And the home-made Spätzle was excellent. We discovered some very nice views of the area on our little stroll after lunch:

Austria Alps rainstorm on the way Alps
Sarah

We stopped here for lunch on the way home from Italy. It was close to two o’clock and most restaurants in these parts (especially in small towns like this one) close between lunch hours and dinner hours. So we were pretty surprised that this place was open. They had a salad bar set-up, which is really unusual. Unfortunately, many of the offerings were kind of wet – drippy lettuce, asparagus swimming in marinade, etc. Cliff and I had the same thing and as he mentioned above, the homemade Spätzle was really good, Schnitzel and sauce were nice, too bad about the canned mushrooms. I personally think the most impressive thing about this place was the view!

Bar Liston 12

The Joint

Piazza Brà, 14a
37122 Verona VR
Italy
Phone: +38 045 8031168
www.liston12.it

Cliff

My buddy Brian and I have very similar tastes in food. I thought he’d flip out over an authentic (as in, in Italy) carbonara sauce, especially since he’d never had one before (right Brian?). It’s very, very high on my Top 5 All-Time Favorite Pasta Sauces.

Unfortunately, Bar Liston 12 is right at the top of my All-Time Worst Dining Experiences in Italy (granted, it’s a short list) due to the lousy noodles, rather cartilaginous pork (was that ham? bacon? sow’s ear?) and beaten raw egg yolk they purported to be Spaghetti Carbonara. It was just disgusting; almost as much as the fact that we paid exorbitant prices (something like €4 for a glass of Coke!) and stormed out of there in frustration and resorted to the special on cheeseburgers at the McDonald’s in Affi.

They were a much better deal, especially with regard to our satisfaction.

Sarah

What. A. Nightmare.

This place is along what I can only assume is one of the main tourist-trappy areas of Verona – right on the circle surrounding the Arena. They serve sub-Stouffer’s quality food at obscenely inflated prices. We had tried to go to another place nearby, highly recommended by a friend who is something of an Italy-expert. Unfortunately, after a comedy of errors while trying to find the B&B, then trying to find parking in Verona while coping with the Italian style of driving, we showed up between the end of their lunch hours and the reopening for dinner.

It was raining. The trip through the city had been terrifying. We were wet, miserable, tired, stressed and HUNGRY. We just stumbled back to the main drag (in an effort not to get lost and overstay our parking) and decided to just eat something and get back out of the city before dark. The only thing that stands out about this place is the awfulness of the food. My ‘Lasagna al forno’ tasted like it came out of a can. A Chef Boyardee can. It is such a bummer that the worst Italian food I’ve ever had in my life was in Italy. But I feel like it’s my own fault.

It’s alright. We went home and made better food (puttanesca sauce with penne) than this joint could ever dream of serving.

Relais San Michele

The Joint

Localitá Cason Degli Ulivi 11
37010 Rivoli Veronese (VR)
ITALY
Phone: (+39)0457238142 Fax: (+39)0457238142

http://www.relaissanmichele.it/

Cliff

This was a terribly cute and pleasant stay, and a great breakfast the next morning as well. Too bad the location was so hard to find — good thing we arrived during daylight.

STA70533 STA70530 STA70528 STA70526 STA70522 STA70524 STA70519
Sarah

What an ordeal! This place was impossible to find, and I don’t think that’s the fault of the proprietors direction – more of a general note of caution for foreigners trying to drive in Italy. Once we found the place, we were pleasantly surprised by the eclectic décor and our lovely host, Niccolo. Unfortunately, the place seems to be across the aqueduct from a quarry. But that might go some distance to explaining the huge amount of lovely stone- and marble-work in our room and bathroom.

The price was great, but you have to have a car to get there. Since we won’t be driving in Italy again any time soon (if ever), we probably won’t go back. But we will recommend it to more adventurous friends.

greetings from Innsbruck, Austria

Darling little town – much like Bolzano, Italy (from our trip in September 2005). No Lippanzer Stallions, though they are here somewhere.

We’ll be continuing on a little later this afternoon to Verona, Italy and staying in a B&B near Lake Garda.

Pictures to follow at the nearest non-pay-by-the-minute internet cafe!

United Airlines — please don’t even bother with them anymore

Brian and Mikey arrived today from K.C. safely, but annoyedly. And who could blame them? Dagnabit United Airlines delayed their flights, causing them to miss connections, and then — on top of all of that — lost their luggage. That’s why Sarah and I spent most of the day at the airport waiting for them. We weren’t really sure when they were going to get here, or on which airline, or from which connecting city. And without that information, you’re screwed: the airlines can’t tell you *anything* about the people on their planes, so if you want any info, you have to ask about specific flight numbers, or flights originating in various cities, etc. — all that stuff we didn’t have and Brian and Mikey couldn’t provide to use while they were underway. So we spent all day hanging around the Munich airport’s arrival areas, hoping to bump into them. Not fun.

Our long-standing agreement with our guests is:
We’ll happily come pick you up at the airport if you come to visit us, provided the airport is Nuremburg or Munich (you’re on your own with Frankfurt). Today’s addition to this is:
If you are flying in on United, or United is involved in any part of your trip, good luck. We’ll see you in Regensburg.

But at least we got to go to Exil:

Saffron Zucchini Pasta Sauce

My favorite Italian restaurant here in Regensburg makes a wonderful saffron zucchini sauce, but it’s seasonal. Well, I got a hankering for it, so I found a recipe that appeared to have the right base ingredients except without the zucchini. I’ve tweaked it enough that I think I can call it my own now.

2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 zucchini, julienned
2 T olive oil
pinch ground saffron
2/3 lb mascarpone cheese
2/3 c white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil to medium high in deep skillet and gently sauté shallots and garlic for about 3 minutes. Add zucchini and sauté for another 3 minutes or until zucchini wilts somewhat.

Reduce heat to medium and add saffron, cheese and half of wine to skillet, stirring often to melt cheese. Bring mixture to gentle boil and allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining wine and salt* and pepper. Allow to simmer another 3-5 minutes.

*Mascarpone is not a salty cheese, so it took a fair amount of salt to bring the flavor out. I used roughly 2 tsp (but I wasn’t measuring). Taste the sauce often to achieve the right flavor.

Susie’s German Potato Salad (Kartoffelsalat)

I have been craving this for quite a while. The potato salad here in Germany is actually very similar to my mom’s, but not exactly the same. And no matter what, your mom’s version is always the best.

6 large red potatoes
6 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 T flour
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
black pepper (to taste)
3/4 c water
1/3 c cider vinegar

Boil potatoes (whole and unpeeled) for 20-30 minutes on low. Potatoes are done when you can stick a knife in and the potato slides off. Drain potatoes and set aside to cool. Once they’re cool, peel and slice potatoes.

Fry bacon until crisp in deep skillet. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Add onion to pan and fry in bacon grease until soft. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and add to onions, stirring frequently until forming a crumbly paste. Pour water and vinegar into skillet, stirring until a sauce forms. Bring sauce to a boil for one minute and stir until thickened.

Add crumbled bacon and sliced potatoes to skillet and stir until coated with sauce. Allow potatoes to sit for at least one hour and serve warm (but not hot).