Tag Archives: Coffee

Bouchon Bistro – Napa

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california 217As the Tin Man prepared for his trip to the wine country, French Laundry was at the top of his list…..oh, then this news……….

“The iconic French Laundry in Yountville has confirmed dates for a planned closure and major renovation, and the plans are a fair bit more ambitious than originally hinted at. As chef-owner Thomas Keller tells the SF Chronicle, what began as some modifications to the restaurant’s entry and an expansion of the kitchen blossomed into a major overhaul and reconstruction of the kitchen which will begin the week after Christmas and won’t be complete for about six months.

You see the reason for this desire is because Thomas Keller (born October 14, 1955) is an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation, notably the Best California Chef in 1996, and the Best Chef in America in 1997. The restaurant is a perennial winner in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World.

Timing is everything!!! But wait, there is more…….

In 2005, Keller was awarded the three star rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for New York for his restaurant Per Se, and in 2006, he was awarded three stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to the Bay Area for The French Laundry.

He is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants.   He currently holds 7 Michelin stars total:             

3 at Per Se, 3 at The French Laundry, and 1 at Bouchon.

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Bouchon it will be then……reservations were made…

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Delightful and Delicious was awaiting us within these walls…..

Marvelous atmosphere………

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We were seated at a lovely table and then the magical culinary symphony began….

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Of course, we must begin with wine….

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My palate was all a tither at the delights that awaited….

First,  the Foie Gras de Canard ……….oh swoon….

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Then the Möelle Rôti…..Roasted Bone Marrow……

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The table covered with delights………the wine, the tasty morsels …..it was culinary nirvana …

Sitting in Thomas Keller’s restaurant surrounded by laughter and the aromas of saffron….thyme…roasted meats….

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Then the mains came…Boudin Blanc ……..white sausage with dried French plums and mashed….

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….Truite Amandine….Idaho rainbow trout with haricorts verts, toasted almonds and beurre noisette…

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Absolutely Delightful……amazing service and delectable food….

….perhaps a bit of coffee….

california 233Then off to the Bouchon Bakery next door……

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What  a delightful evening……….hope you enjoyed the visit

The Bouchon was such a delight, Tin Man was quite pleased the French Laundry was closed…hope you enjoyed the visit!

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CLAFOUTI : Toronto – Canada

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It began by a chance meeting in the virtual world of Blogging….and so the journey continues…

We booked passage on Uncommon Journeys Canadian Panorama cross country Train Excursion……..two weeks…yikers I thought….

Our Second Day was to be spent in Toronto….not caring for Large Cities….I saw her looming before us…construction cranes everywhere..

You see, in Canada,  there are two seasons:  Winter and Construction

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Virginia of BEL OCCHIO’S BLOG had already told us of Queen’s Street and Clafouti…home of the BEST croissants outside of Paris…….off we went

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Pure Victorian Delight……….peace, tranquility and not one construction crane in sight…..only the rumble of quaint street cars going by….

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Then we turned the corner and there it was…………Clafouti….mecca of the Croissant and the Crookie………….more about that later…….

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We came to the well worn steps leading to her front door….

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Inside………the aroma of fresh baked goods and coffee….

Clafouti reaches out and throws a Parisian Wrap around us….

Just look at the Delectable Delights……….

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We grab the table next to the window……….Virginia’s favorite, so we could look out at the beautiful Trinity Bellwoods Park across the street….

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Our Croissants so flaky and delicious………the coffee, rich and fragrant…..

We did not try the Crookie……a Croissant with an Oreo Cookie baked inside…..Clafouti created this masterpiece…

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The Bell on the Door was always a-tinkle with customers coming and going…..

The Bohemian Interior of Clafouti so enchanting….

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Alas, time to go explore the Park and seek out those mysterious albino squirrels, Good Husband of Virginia has spoken of…..

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We look back at our Clafouti……..and think of all the times our friend Virginia sat here gathering strength…..

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The Park is full of Flowers………but not one albino squirrel to be seen…..

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Time to hop the streetcar and head back for dinner…….What a treat is was to escape to Paris for a couple of hours……..

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Until next time…………

Syracuse – Sicily

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Syracuse  is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse.

The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes.

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This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times,

when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world.

Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Syracuse next to the Ionian Sea.

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The city was founded by Ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans and became a very powerful city-state.

Syracuse was allied with Sparta and Corinth, exerting influence over the entire Magna Graecia area of which it was the most important city.

Once described by Cicero as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”, it later became part of the Roman Republic and Byzantine Empire.

Our trek to Malta took us to this enchanted city for only a brief time…

on our way we passed by Mount Etna,  the tallest active volcano on the European continent, 10,922 feet high.

It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity, which was quite amazing to watch…

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We had met a lovely couple in Messina, who suggested a stop in Syracusa to visit the Piazza Duomo

We stayed in the Hotel Roma which is actually part of the Temple of Athena, now the Syracuse Cathedral….

We arrived at night and the city was magical……with all sorts of promises for daybreak….

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We stayed in the Hotel Roma…….which was once part of the Temple of Athena..

in one section of the hotel you could look though the glass floor and gaze upon the Altar of Atena….quite literally walking on history!

Our room had a marvelous balcony with views of the Piazza Duomo …

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In the morning we dashed off around the corner to see what treasures were hidden at the back of the hotel…

There it was the Temple of Athena, now the Syracusa Cathedral…..

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The charm of this construction of a modern place of worship upon a much more  ancient one is heightened by the fact that some of the columns “trapped” within  the walls have been tilted and twisted by earthquakes that the cathedral has endured  during its history.

In these deformities one can see “frozen” in time the awesome  force of nature that shook Syracuse in its ancient history.

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The temple of Athena in Doric style was erected in the fifth century BC the tyrant Gelo after the victory against the Carthaginians in the Battle of Imera.

The Athenaion had six columns in front, with 14 columns along the sides. Part of the temple is currently visible on the left side of the cathedral…

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In the seventh century the temple was converted into a church by the bishop of the city Zos.

The church, of Byzantine style, was dedicated to the Nativity of Mary.

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The floor dates from the fifteenth century and in 1518 the nave was covered with the wooden ceiling still preserved.

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In the sixteenth century was also erected the bell tower. In 1728 the façade was reconstructed.

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We found being in this structure that survived so many years and served so many people in different capacities so very interesting…

Now off to the markets……..

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The city is brimming with beauty….

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We come upon the Fountain of Diana……

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……so this Siracusa, known to English speakers as Syracuse, was a wonder to behold…..

One of the great ancient capitals of Western civilization, founded in 734 BC by Greek colonists from Corinth which soon grew to rival, and even surpass, Athens in splendor and power.

This magical place became the largest, wealthiest city-state in the West and a bulwark of Greek civilization.

Rulers such as Dionysius filled the courts with Greeks of the highest cultural stature—among them the playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides, and the philosopher Plato

We are left, sitting on the Piazza Duomo, sipping our cappuccino, preparing for the next leg of our journey……

…..suddenly the air if filled with beautiful music…..and there he is…

a young boy sitting on the steps of the Temple of Athena with his accordion….

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……….like a dream, I say…………..like a dream…….

ciao

Avignon – France

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Avignon  is located in southeastern France bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is a place I have dreamed of visiting since I was around ten years old.

When we checked into the hotel and opened the window, we were greeting with an amazing view of the Palais des Papes

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Often referred to as the “City of Popes” because of the presence of popes and antipopes from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism.

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Avignon is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts.

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In addition, its historic center, the palace of the popes,

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 and the bridge of Avignon………..

……… Pont d’Avignon  Only four of the eighteen piles are left; on one of them stands the small Romanesque chapel of Saint-Bénézet.are well-preserved.

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But the bridge is best known for the famous French song Sur le pont d’Avignon.

In 1309 the city, still part of the Kingdom of Arles, was chosen by Pope Clement V as his residence, and from 9 March 1309 until 13 January 1377 was the seat of the Papacy instead of Rome.

The Palais des Papes is an amazing building….

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By choosing to “move” the Vatican to Avignon Clement caused a schism in the Catholic Church.

At the time, the city and the surrounding Comtat Venaissin were ruled by the kings of Sicily of the house of Anjou.

The French King Philip the Fair, who had inherited from his father all the rights of Alphonse de Poitiers (the last Count of Toulouse), made them over to Charles II, King of Naples and Count of Provence (1290).

Nonetheless, Philip was a shrewd ruler. Inasmuch as the eastern banks of the Rhone marked the edge of his kingdom,

when the river flooded up into the city of Avignon, Philip taxed the city since during periods of flood, the city technically lay within his domain…..interesting tax laws!

Here the flood levels were recorded ….

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The Popes who resided in the Palais des Papes were

Clement V: 1305–1314

John XXII: 1316–1334

Benedict XII: 1334–1342

Clement VI: 1342–1352

Innocent VI: 1352–1362

Urban V: 1362–1370

Gregory XI: 1370–1378

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This period from 1309–1377 – the Avignon Papacy – was also called the Babylonian Captivity of exile, in reference to the Israelites‘ enslavement in biblical times.

The inside of the Palais is eerie and haunting…

europe2 799It feels strange to walk these empty rooms and hallways….

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….and of course there is the garden of the Rocher des Doms…

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Now time for some lunch at 46 Bistro……….escargot …….of course…

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…then a walk about town……to the place to be…………the Place de l’Horloge..

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….looks like these two have been sitting around here for a while…

…amazing Carrousel…La Belle Epoque…

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We visited the most wonderful Musee Lapidaire, CLICK HERE to read about that visit…..

……………..we encountered wonderful architecture, as we strolled about….

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….of course the cafes attract our attention….

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….and we decide to have dinner at lou Mistrau….beautiful outdoor dining with wind shields….good because it is quite nippy….

we begin with………….you guessed it escargot…..the best we have ever eaten…

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….followed by my very favorite dish on the planet…..Cassoulet……

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….then perhaps some beef and potatoes….

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……ahhh but let us not forget dessert and cappuccino ….

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walking about we encounter these wonderful ladies dressed in vintage clothing….

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It has been a most wonderful visit, filled with discovery, wonderment, lavender, culinary delights…..

…..but we must move on….

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Cupid Party

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……..well as you can see from the painting…..we love to entertain…

I have the wonderful pleasure of having retired from my professional career

as a Health Care Administrator, after 35 years of service and

get to work in the field of my true passion………..the Culinary World!

I work in a retail food environment (i.e. Grocery Store) that is very innovative and trendsetting…

I am the resident Chef for my location and have a wonderfully ordained kitchen in which I get to prepare all sorts of culinary delights for customers wanted to expand their foodie interests.

Due to this I also maintain a recipe site : www.Chef-Emil.com , should you ever be interested in checking out my creations!

I work with the most amazing group of people and so very enjoy what we bring to our customers.

Each year I throw an appreciation party for our group, this year it was the Year of the Cupid…

I ran about the house and gathered up all the Hutschenreuther Puttis I could find to create the tablescape

Just as a point of interest, the Hutschenreuther Company was founded in 1814 by Carolus Magnus Hutschenreuther in Hohenberg an der Eger, Bavaria, Germany.   He had previously worked at the Wallendorf porcelain manufactory in Lichte.   After his death in 1845, the factory was headed by his widow, Johanna Hutschenreuther, and her two sons.

From 1860, they produced hand-painted gilded porcelains, and were quite famous for the use of the Putti (my cupids).  

A large part of the factory was destroyed by a fire in 1848.

I wish the photos would show the marvelous detail of the work….We  fell in love with Hutschenreuther and have been collecting for some time..

First and foremost,  we had to pick out the wines for the eventing…

Then, of course,  have the coffee bar ready for those who may have had too much wine…

…..the house is ready for the guests to arrive…

The food is simple and easy to eat, as we plan on doing a lot of talking and mingling…

….a plate of Smoked Salmon with Creme Fraiche,  Rye and Gerkins…

…all sorts of cheese, representing the marvelous tastes of our planet…

…this is The Cupid Party, so some sweets were in order…

This Trifle is made with Triple Chocolate Cake, drenched in Godiva Chocolate Liquor, Strawberries, Vanilla Bean Custard and Fresh Cream…

….wonderful Caprese Salad, with Mozzarella Nibs….

 ……….of course the guests of honor for the evening……

a grand time was had by all ……and then at the culmination of the festivities, these wonderful people

present me with something I shall cherish for all time…

…can you believe the were able to find a Tin Man Chef!!….

….so until next year….Ciao….hmmmm…… wonder what the theme shall be..

 

Grab A Beer – Shiner, Texas

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The Flying Monkeys were restless and wanted to explore some new place, so off we went to Shiner, Texas

Shiner is located in Lavaca County.

It all began in 1887 when Henry B. Shiner donated 250 acres of land for a railroad right of way.

As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 2,069.

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To our amazement there are no hotels in Shiner!  So we booked a room at the Shiner Country Inn..

Not the lap of luxury, but clean

Shiner is the home of the Spoetzl Brewery,  the oldest independent brewery in Texas.  The brewery is most well known for producing Shiner Bock,  a dark German/Czech-style beer that is now distributed in 41 states.

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………..but more about that later.

We explored the entire town to plan our itinerary………okay that took 10 minutes,

so we went to Snowflake Donuts for breakfast…

 

Upon entering we found a table of about 20 locals, all of whom ceased conversation and stared at us the entire time we were in the place…….okay weird!

………..now back the the Spotzl Brewery……

A group of businessmen incorporated Shiner Brewing Association

and placed Herman Weiss in as the company’s first brewmaster.  

In 1914 a German immigrant brewer named Kosmos Spoetzl co-leased with Oswald Petzold

with an option to buy in 1915.  

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Spoetzl had attended brewmaster’s school and apprenticed for three years in Germany, worked for eight years at the Pyramids Brewery in Cairo, Egypt, and then worked in Canada.   He moved to San Antonio in search of a better climate for his health, bringing with him a family recipe for a Bavarian beer made from malted barley and hops.

During Prohibition in the United States,  Kosmos Spoetzl kept the brewery afloat by selling ice and making Low-alcohol beer  “near beer.”   After Prohibition only five of the original 13 Texas breweries were still intact.   When the Prohibition laws were repealed, larger beer plants, such as Anheuser-Busch, moved to Texas making life harder on the smaller independent breweries,  but Spoetzl kept things small and simple,  never going more than 70 miles for business.

The owner’s daugher, Miss Cecelie took over operations in 1922

and became the only woman in the United States to be a sole owner of a brewery in 1950.

In the 1970s and 1980s the brewery’s ”Shiner Beer” and ”Shiner Bock”  had less than 1 percent of the Texas market.   In 1983 Spoetzl produced 60,000 barrels of beer;  in 1990 only 36,000.   Sales improved after Carlos Alvarez of San Antonio acquired the brewery in 1989:   Production grew to 100,000 barrels in 1994,  and over the next ten years,  production nearly tripled.

As of 2012,  it was the fourth-largest craft brewery and tenth-largest overall brewery in the United States.  Spoetzl currently produces eight beers year round and four seasonal brews per year.

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We were so lucky to have the Brewmaster, Jimmy Mauric, conduct a personal tour!

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The brew house was so very beautiful with the copper brew tanks…

The view of the bottling room was amazing……..many thousands of bottles whirling around…..

The tour over it was time for a late lunch……….where should we go…..oh yes the only restaurant in town….

The Shiner Restaurant and Bar..

The place was empty!  The bar was quite beautiful and ornate

The dining room sported wonderful old cabinets…

The food was great….we began with the Shiner Beer Bread and Shiner Black Butter

…..then on to the Pulled Pork Sandwich and the “World’s Best Sandwich”……that was really the name!

It was a Club Style BLT with a Chicken Fried Steak thrown in for Good Measure…….don’t tell my Cardiologist about this post!

Well that was Shiner a quiet, quiet, quiet little Texas Town

So until next time…………PROST!

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Havre de Grace

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Whilst driving from Baltimore to Philadelphia, it was time for a break from the road and there before us was a sign for

HAVRE de GRACE, MARYLAND

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Well the rusty old jaw of the Tin Man still has difficulty pronouncing this one correctly

(after all the Emerald City is located in Texas!!)

But off we did go………..

Havre de Grace is a city in Harford County, Maryland  It is situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay.

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On May 3, 1813, during the War of 1812, Havre de Grace was attacked by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.   The American Lieutenant John O’Neill single-handedly manned a cannon to help defend the town. He was wounded, captured by the British, and soon released.   In gratitude, Havre de Grace made O’Neill and his descendants the hereditary keepers of the Concord Point lighthouse marking the mouth of the Susquehanna River.

The Town is named after the port city of Le Havre, France, which in full was once ”Le Havre de Grâce”, “Haven of Grace”. 

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In 1789,  Havre de Grace was in serious consideration to be the permanent capital of the United States.

Havre de Grace was a candidate for the honor of being named capital of the United States, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the new permanent U.S. capital,

the vote was tied between Washington, D.C. and Havre de Grace—with the tie-breaking vote cast by the House Speaker, in favor of Washington, D.C.

WOW………..and all we really wanted to do was stretch our legs and find a public restroom!!!

We found a marvelous place to rest and decided to have a bite to eat, since the view was so magnificent.

The Tidewater Grille

We got a great table that looked out over the water and a wonderful railroad bridge.

Two railroad main lines pass through Havre de Grace. More than 8 daily passenger trains on Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor speed through Havre de Grace at 90 mph on an elevated line. 

The double track bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad between 1904 & 1906

for its New York City & Washington, D.C. line. 

Well, I don’t know about you, but every time I am in Maryland I MUST have all the crab I can possibly consume!

So I began with a marvelous Cream of Crab Soup

Followed by the server’s recommendation of Susquehanna Hash…………and since we were sitting at the mouth of the Susquehanna River, it seemed appropriate.

It was a marvelous Hash made with Maryland Crab ( lots of it!) and Tasso Ham,  topped with an Egg..one of the best dishes I have ever eaten!

We enjoyed our meals and watched the trains as they sped along the tracks over the Susquehanna River and imagined the Capital Building sitting here, but for one vote!

Then it was off to explore more of the town and have a coffee at Java by the Bay

For joy!  The fragrances of the coffee beans was so wonderful in the Shoppe…….

……and the coffee so pleasing, as it was quite windy and cold outside.

Well, hope you enjoyed our little visit to Havre de Grace, now it’s time to get back in the car and continue our journey……

 

 

What Does It Really Mean

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Recently the Washington Post listed their winners for Alternate Meanings of Words

Let’s take a look at some common words and find their alternate meanings……..

Coffee, noun.  The Person upon whom one coughs

 

Flabbergasted, adjective.  Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

 

abdicate, verb.  To give up all hope of EVER having a flat stomach.

 

Esplanade, verb.  To attempt an explanation while drunk.

Willy-nilly, adjective.    Impotent

Negligent, adjective.   Absent-mindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

Control, noun.  A short, ugly inmate

Lymph, verb.   To walk with a lisp

Gargoyle, noun.   Olive-flavored mouth wash.

Flatulence, noun.  Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

Balderdash, noun.   A rapidly receding hairline.

Testicle, noun.  A humorous question on an exam.

Rectitude, noun.  The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

Pokemon, noun .  A Rastafarian proctologist

Oyster, noun.   A person who sprinkles their conversation with Yiddishisms.

Frisbeetarianism, noun.  The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

Circumvent, noun.  An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Arbitrator, noun.  A cook that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonalds

Avoidable, adjective.  What a bull fighter tries to do

Bernadette, verb.  The act of torching a mortgage

Burglarize, noun.  What a crook sees with

Eyedropper, noun.  A clumsy Ophthalmologist

 

Paradox, noun.  Two physicians

Pharmacist, noun.  A helper on a farm

Selfish, verb.  What the owner of a seafood store does

Sudafed, verb.  Brought litigation against a government official

Polarize, noun.  What penguins see with

Parasites, noun.  What you see from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Munich, Germany

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We are on the train to Munich!  This is probably our last train trip on this voyage.  We are  still so amazed at how comfortable and efficient the transportation system is here in Europe.  We are mesmerized by the beauty as we travel through the mountains — may with snow!  This has been one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  The homes all have the typical German architecture and the forest is dense tall pine trees.  So lush and green as compared to our parched Texas.  We pass through village after village of quaint gingerbread houses surrounding a grand church whose steeple towers over the village, all nestled in the mountains of pine trees with clouds tucked in the crevices and clear pristine rivers running by.

We arrive in the city of Munich with the weather clearing and the sun shining!  Our Hotel Ibis is located near the old section of Munich and all that lies between us is the botanical garden — not a bad walk!  We just finished dining on schnitzle and spatzel with mushrooms and gravy.  We sit and review our plans regarding the sites to visit while we are here.  Our room at the hotel was rather small, so we met with the manager Karina Nolle, who moved us to the top floor of the hotel in a lovely room overlooking the entire city……what a wonder person she is!

We had a grand breakfast at the hotel of some of the most wonderful smoked salmon I have ever tasted with horseradish and sour cream with chives and onion —— ooohhhh my!  Of course I visited my new friend — the European coffee machine — several times for wonderful rich cappuccino.  We then ventured out to the subway and off to Marionplatz, home of the famous glockenspiel.  The glockenspiel is basically a life-sized coo-coo clock in the tower of the town hall built in the 1500s.  The figures that spin and dance re-enact some royal wedding and they are all life-sized and carved of wood.  It is a marvel to behold.  unfortunately it is Sunday and all the shops are closed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have dinner at a wonderful German Restaurant, Rechthaler-Hof.

We sit near a beautiful harvest crown make of wheat.

Our first course is beef broth with a large liver dumpling– oh delights this is so very good!

The main course is a pig leg baked to crispy perfection, served with fresh sauerkraut and a huge potato dumpling. I am reminded of Botin’s Restaurant in Madrid and the Cochino al Horno.

The meal was so marvelous. The skin of the pork was crispy and the dumpling was so very, very good. We had to skip the beer and desert, the meal was so rich and filling.

We walked back to the Hotel Ibis, the temperature is below 40 degrees and there is a slight rain and strong wind. We discussed what an adaptation we will have to make when we return home to Texas.

It is time to visit a traditional Beer Garden and enjoy one of the true gifts of German society. We pick the Augustiner-Keller, which was established in 1812.

It is a very large beer garden nestled under dense trees. When we left we found out how dense the trees were…..it had been and continued to rain! We remained dry the entire time we ate our meal under those trees! I would estimate a half an acre of food and beer. We enjoy a plate of assorted Bavarian sausages with the most delicious sauerkraut and potatoes. We drink the beer that is brewed on site and served out of ancient wooden barrels — another amazing treat.

We have such fun spending a day in the ourdoor market and marveling in the sounds, smells, sights and tastes of this wonderful city.

When we awake to leave for the United States, we find a beautiful moon over Munich and almost decide to stay………..