Friday, December 16, 2022

Cacao – Prague

We stopped in Prague for an overnight stay during our Christmas trip to Germany. By the time we got into town and checked into the hotel, we were a bit hungry.

Right near our hotel was the Cacao Coffee Shop.

Nice little place, coffee, drinks and a good selection of soups and sandwiches.

I had a pastrami sandwich – Beef pastrami, pickles, coarse mustard, Emmental (Swiss cheese), roasted onion and pickled onion. Not bad for $149 CZK.

It was good. I was a little worried about having roasted and pickled onions, but they weren’t overpowering. I would have liked a bit more pastrami, but what was there was good.

The Chicken Club – Chicken breast, lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, dressing, baked potatoes. $159 CZK

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Was Ist Das Schnitzel? Day 2 Berlin

On day two of our trip to Berlin, we finally started to get it together. After breakfast at the hotel, we asked at the front desk where to find an ATM so we could get some Euro’s. Seems like the only choice was at the airport, just a few minutes’ drive from the hotel. 

So we headed to the airport, found a place to park that didn't have any fee and went inside. Took us a couple of minutes, but we did find an ATM that worked and got out some money. 

The location of an ATM in the Berlin Airport. They are easy to miss if your stressing from a long flight and the fun of getting your bags from baggage claim . As you walk from baggage claim to the rental car desks, you have to look back to baggage claim to see the ATM.

We looked at the map and it looked like there might be a couple of local places in a shopping center just one exit down the Autobahn. We headed over to the area, but there really wasn't a good choice. We didn't feel like grabbing ramen or kabab. 

We had noticed a Gasthaus just a bit down the road. It took us a couple of tries to find the parking lot entrance, but we did manage to get to the Zur Hecke Gasthaus. The parking lot was small and quite full.

Once inside we were greeted by a lady, I'm guessing the owner. She addressed us in German, which we didn't understand most of what she said. My wife shyly said, "English?" She seemed quite surprised but did say she could speak a little English (actually, I thought her English was pretty good). 

 We both ordered Schnitzel, me a Hamburger Schnitzel and my wife a Jagar Schnitzel. They were both very good. I do have to say, there was a lot of food. Great service, good food and a pretty authentic experience.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Looking for Food; Day 1 in Berlin

My wife and I used to have a hard rule about dining while traveling, no chains, no restaurants that we have at home. It seemed like a good plan; it allowed us to find really amazing places like the “Fox and Goat” outside of Oxford England. 

The Fox and Goat, we were lucky to find a great place to eat on day 1 of our England trip.

It was on that trip in 2019, we found ourselves on the highway heading back to Oxford, hungry, tired and in search of anything to eat. We finally exited at a turnout along the highway and found something to eat. You can read about that in this blog entry: Food on the Fly: A French Burger in England? It Could Happen We ended up eating at the McDonalds in the turnout. I was actually pretty happy with the “International” burger that I had. 

That experience led us to having breakfast at the McDonalds next to our hotel on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. Food on the Fly: Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam Wonderful Spam! 

So tonight we found ourselves in Germany, short on cash, not able to find an ATM and not sure if our credit cards would be accepted. Once again tired and hungry, we turned to our old friend Mickey D’s. We had gone in search of an ATM and ended up driving into Berlin (which was not part of the plan). We set the GPS to go back to the hotel and saw a McD’s right on the route. We went in, wondering if the staff would be able to understand us. What we found were the electronic ordering board we have at home. After a minute, we noticed that we could switch the language to English. Hoping to find something different than the offerings in California, I ordered a hamburger Royal. 

 Turns out it is just a ¼ pounder with cheese. I really didn’t mind, I was just looking to eat something. They also offered a chicken sandwich that looked a lot like the original chicken sandwich at Burger King, I thought about giving that a try, maybe next time we are in Germany. 

 So, it wasn’t a life changing experience, but I still think we will wander into a McDonald’s when we visit France in the Spring.

Off to Europe

It’s been a bit, but we’re back on the road. This time we are headed to Germany for the Christmas Markets.

I was sitting at the computer about three weeks ago. My wife had forwarded me an article about the German Christmas Markets she had seen online.

As I read the article, I thought, “why not.”

I went online and booked flights, hotels and a car.

There is a bit of insanity, booking a trip to a country you’ve only dreamed of going to, hoping that between Utube and one semester of high school German you can navigate a trip to a foreign country.

We’ll see how that works out.

We left home on Saturday and headed to Los Angeles International Airport.

On the way we stopped at Clearman’s North Woods Inn for a meal before the flight.

Clearman’s holds a special place in my memories. I remember going there as a child with my father.

My parents separated when I was very young, so I didn’t see my father much. One of the things I remember most about the time we spent together was eating out. He didn’t cook much and at home with mom, we didn’t have much money, so we rarely went out.

I love Clearman’s from the start. From the fake snow

covered roof, to the dimly lit interior illuminating the Canadian North Woods décor. And as a kid, anyplace that let you throw peanut shells on the floor was a rare treat.

Not much has changed since I first walked thru their doors over 50 years ago. On this visit, I had the “Steak Chunks on skewer” served with two salads, rice pilaf, baked potato and garlic cheese bread.

The salads are a pretty plain salad and a red cabbage salad. I would go to Clearman’s just to have the cabbage salad and the garlic cheese bread.

It’s not cheap, but for a special treat it’s well worth the cost.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Slapfish - Los Angeles International Airport

We had booked an early morning flight from Los Angeles to Vancouver Canada. Not wanting to deal with LA morning traffic, we booked a room at a hotel not far from LAX. The hotel offered a morning breakfast, but we needed to be at the airport before they started serving. 

Our experiences dining while traveling since the lifting of some pandemic restrictions has been a mixed bag. 

We have been in airports with no food establishments operating, seen some limited seating, and some places that were wide open. 

Since we arrived on the concourse at LAX before 7:30 am, we expected to have limited choices. The Jersey Mikes Sub shop was open, as was Slapfish Modern Seafood Shack. 

I was hoping one of the two other dining choices in the area, Build (custom burgers) or Fresh Bros Pizza would be open. We checked and were told they wouldn’t open until 9am. 

So, we ordered from Slapfish. My wife got a breakfast sandwich, I got the breakfast burrito. 

If you’ve read any of my posts on burgers, you know that a pet peeve of mine is chefs who coat the outside of the just about any sandwich with butter. Honestly, this needs to stop. The last thing I want when eating is to have both of my hands covered in butter. And after finishing the meal, no amount of handwashing will get the smell of the burger off your hands. Only time will fade the scent. The one exception might be a really good patty melt. But that’s bread, not a bun so the absorption of the butter is a bit different. 

Which brings me to my breakfast burrito. 

Snapfish describes their Epic Shrimp Burrito as “Packed with shrimp, tomato, rice, fries, salsa, pickled onion, comes with a small side of chips & salsa.”

The breakfast version is a variation of the Epic. The big difference seems to be the addition of a bit of bacon and a reduction of the amount of shrimp.

If only it was as good as it looked

Don’t get me wrong, I like shrimp. I like it a lot. But there was something more than off-putting about this combination of eggs, shrimp and bacon that I just couldn’t embrace. In fact, I would log it as one of the worst burritos I have ever tried to eat. I say tried because most of it ended up in the trash. 

The eggs were dry, the shrimp was fishy, the rest of the ingredients were lost, the salsa could have been the saving grace, but it was watery and bland. 

And to add insult to injury, Build opened before we got our food from Slapfish. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

An Open Letter to BMW

Note: this is a reprint of a Facebook post I made on January 13, just as the pandemic was about to come to light. Our refrigerator broke, and I needed to pick up some breakfast for the wife and I.

During the drive home, I identified a real problem with the design of my BMW Z4. 

Me and my BMW Z4 at Painted Rocks, Fort Irwin, CA

Dear BMW,

I don’t normally complain. Perhaps it’s because of my British roots, as the English are known to be slow to disparage anyone or anything, preferring instead to just wait until a solution presents itself – as Pink Floyd noted in the song “Time” that “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.” 

But in this instance, I feel I must say something.

First off, thanks for making truly amazing automobiles. 

I proudly drive an older model Z4 convertible. The power to weight ratio makes for an exciting ride, especially in the winding roads of our local mountains. I love to put the top down and make the run up to one of our local mountain towns for lunch in the afternoon.

I reserve my sports car adventures for the weekends and days off, choosing to make my 150 mile-a-day commute to work in my boring, under-powered, yet dependable work truck.

Which makes driving the Z4 even more fun.

As much as I love the Zed, I would like to call your attention to a critical design flaw that could cause even the most experienced of drivers to lose control of their machine and end what should be a wonderful driving experience - in a fiery blaze of horror. 

Yes, I am talking about the cup holder.  Or to be a little more specific – the lack of a proper cup holder.

Yesterday morning I went out to pick up breakfast for my lovely wife and I. Our very high-Tech refrigerator had quit working and every bit of food in the house had to be thrown out. This necessitated a trip to a local restaurant to pick up our morning meal. 

Having spent a good deal of hard-earned cash on the refrigerator, as well as the food inside of it, I was feeling a bit low that morning. Because of this I decided that driving the BMW instead of my work truck might be just enough to raise my spirits.

I drove the four miles to the restaurant, enjoying the deep, smooth purring of the engine as I cruised happily along the main street of town.

Once there, I ordered breakfast - coffee and the #1 with scrambled eggs and bacon for the wife, an omelet with hash browns for me. After a short wait and a bit of conversation, I left with our meal.

As I situated myself in the driver’s seat of the Zed, I suddenly remembered the fact that the cup holders in the BMW will not actually hold a cup. 

The design has them embedded into the dash and they pop-out when needed.  However, in the four years I have driven the Z4, I have yet to get the cup holder to actually “hold” a drink cup. 

So, I sat for a minute, contemplating my options while the smell of freshly cooked bacon filled the cab of my little car. 

Hungry, and knowing my life depended on delivering the all-important morning elixir to the wife, I carefully placed the steaming cup of java in the only place it would be secure - between my legs. 

I carefully backed out of the parking space, shifted into first gear and pulled gently toward the exit. 

I signaled and made a left turn onto the roadway shifting into second gear. 

Almost immediately I felt a strange sensation in my nether regions. 

I’m not sure if the cup lid was not properly secured, or if my operation of the clutch jarred it loose, but the lid had come partially off the cup.

Time slowed as the “sensation” quickly became excruciating pain, as the dark, molten hot, 100% arabica-bean liquid soaked thru my blue jeans and scalded – how should I put this – the leading edge of my man parts.

I find it hard to describe the pain this inflicted onto one of the most sensitive parts of the male anatomy, but I imagine that somewhere in a deep dark dungeon of Medieval Europe, someone found this to be an effective tool to encourage any man to admit to any crime. Perhaps this was one of the methods of persuasion used during the Inquisition. Or maybe used by the KGB to flush out imagined spies. If not, they missed an opportunity. No man can stand up to this torture.

With no place to pull over, I continued to drive home. With tears in my eyes and holding the evil cup in my left hand, steering with my left wrist and using my right hand to steer and shift as I drove along in “quiet desperation.” 

I made it thru the multiple traffic signals and finally arrived at my house - relief finally in sight. As I pulled into the driveway, I hit a small bump, spilling more of the scalding liquid on my pants and interior of my prized automobile. 

Inside, as I explained to my family what happened, I was met with a touch of sympathy, but mostly with hysterical laughter. 

BMW BMW USA you alone hold the power to prevent this tragedy from repeating itself. You alone can prevent the pain and embarrassment caused by this design flaw from being suffered by others.

I plead with you to ensure that all future BMW automobiles have a proper way to secure beverages, for the safety and happiness of your loyal customer base. 

Or maybe we should all just stick to iced tea.