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Posts Tagged ‘beer’

Eating our way through Europe

August 3rd, 2009 Comments off

We are not food critics so this little story won’t be passing judgment about local tastes and customs.

Well, we do have to mention that that most menus offered pig knuckles, which I resisted at every opportunity, and that in Poland they serve pork lard with the bread.

We ate at McDonald’s twice – but once was legitimate because it offered an international menu with its Greek burger (feta cheese and three, maybe four, black olives). (See, we didn’t have a quarter-pounder.) This was, as I recall, at a highway stop in the Czech Republic.

Jeanne’s favorite meal was the crispy-yet-moist duck in Prague. I remember the cheese-dumpling soup in Strasburg that was awesome. Daughter remembers  the beers, everywhere.

We all raved about the lasagna in Luxembourg, the Chicken House’s rotisserie chicken with all sorts of different sauces in Antwerp and the German potato salad served at the beer garden in Munich. (Well, of course German potato salad has to be good when you eat it at a German beer garden in Germany!)

Desserts were mostly conventional but in France we were delightfully surprised by the bowl of meringue drizzled with a kind of caramel-vanilla sauce.

If you eat with your eyes, take a look at the four pages of food photos in our gallery.

Meet Mr. Mobi

July 6th, 2009 Comments off

This afternoon we picked up the motorhome, better known by its nickname, Mobi. It’s a smart vehicle, with a refrigerator/freezer that runs on 220 volts, 12-volt battery or propane depending on the situation, a flat screen TV with rooftop satellite dish and DVD player, rooftop solar panels to help charge the auxiliary battery, a bathroom featuring a separate shower and a toilet with a swivel seat (!) to maximize space, a three-burner range (but no oven, which was disappointing to Daughter who likes heating croissants for breakfast) and tons of storage. Tons.

At the dealership,I was taught how to turn the pedestal dining table into the second bed for Daughter, how to dump the toilet, how to run the GPS and how to know the difference between the diesel-fuel intake and the water intake. “People are stupid,” the young man said when explaining the difference. And then he added for some reason, “You’re American, yes?”

While I was getting the how-to tour, Daughter’s Boyfriend went inside the salesroom to find something to drink, and returned with two beers. Belgium.

Boyfriend followed me home, and not more than 3 minutes after leaving the dealership he waved me over on the highway. A corner of the rear bumper had come loose and was flapping badly. We’ll have to find some duct tape but hopefully this won’t be a sign of what’s to come.

When I pulled up to Daughter’s and Boyfriend’s downtown Antwerp apartment building, I encountered my first real driving test: parallel parking a 21-foot motorhome in a spot that was maybe 23 or 24 feet long. You can see the results. Jeanne and Daughter then loaded up the food, bedding and other provisions.

So tomorrow we begin our vacation in earnest. Jeanne is poring over the map and the tour books to find the best campground prospects, and they all sound marvelous, with rivers running through them. This won’t be the Europe we already know, the one with honking cars, police sirens with their signature European wail, and the constant rumble of the street cars. This will be its soft, quiet side. We are ready for Germany’s Black Forest.

Getting sauced in Belgium

July 6th, 2009 Comments off

After just a day in Belgium, you learn two things very quickly.  One: people love their beers and, well, they’re pretty good. Monica, my health coach, will kill me. I had three in one day.

The other thing you discover quickly is that Belgians love their sauces. And, they’re good.

Now, for the record, I’m not a big sauce person. I prefer lighter meals, like this antipasto appetizer plate that Daughter put out before our evening walk.

But when in Antwerp, eventually you have to do what Antwerpians do. For dinner, Daughter and Boyfriend suggested what they refer to as the Chicken House, one of a dozen or so restaurants and sidewalk cafes at what is called the Grand Marketplace, or the historic square in downtown Antwerp.

There are other things on the menu but the moment you walk in and see, smell and feel (the heat) of the wall of chickens on the rotisseries behind the hostess, you figure you’ve got to do chicken.  The chicken can come plain, but the menu offers various sauces and that is clearly  the intention: you want chicken? Then you get it with sauce.

Red wine-and-mushroom sauce. Mushroom pepper sauce. Stroganoff sauce. Provencal, curry, Bordelaise, béarnaise, compote… All sorts of sauces.

And you chose between fries or skillet country potatoes. But there don’t seem to be any vegetables in the house, and just one side-salad offering.

But there are lots of beers.