Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Special

Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers! To celebrate the holidays, let's break briefly from our pattern of sampling the world's finest eateries and instead prepare a delightful meal on the premises as it were. Here is a How-To on making grilled cheese panini, or in French Croque Monsieur. So as they say in France, fangen wir an!

Equipment needed.

Like many specialty dishes, some special equipment is required:
  • One panini press. I purchased this one.

  • A butter knife

  • A bottle opener

  • In some instances, you may need a pair of scissors.


You will need the following items:
  • Bread. Sourdough is ideal, but as that is unattainable in Germany, we will use Butter Toast. Yes, that really is the name.

  • Margarine or butter.

  • Cheese. It wouldn't be much of a grilled cheese without cheese now would it? The type is a matter of preference. I prefer Gouda though Emmentaler (Swiss) cheese is also good. Shredded cheese works best, so whatever type you decide on, make certain the packet says "gerieben" (shredded) on it.

  • More cheese. Use the blue cheese of your choice. I chose Gorgonzola.

  • Smokey pork. Bacon bits or ham or both! A mistake I made was to buy ham in slices which had to be torn into smaller pieces. Don't do that! Make sure to buy the ham that is already cut into little cubes.

  • Beer. Two (2) or three (3) bottles of your Lieblingsbier.

  • A packet of something yummy. In the photo above, one can see that I chose sliced salami. This is a honey pot ingredient to keep you from eating up the ones you actually need.


Before we use any of our appliances, I'd like to take a moment to talk about kitchen safety. Be sure to read, understand, and follow the safety rules which come with your appliances. Knowing how to use your appliances properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this, there is no more important safety rule, than to wear these, (tap, tap) safety glasses. Now let's cook!
Appliance with Instruction Manual

  1. Open the bread. There will be a little device made from either plastic or plastic coated wire that keeps the bread slices from falling out onto the floor. Remove this device, but take notice of where you lay it; otherwise when you go to put the unused bread away, the slices will all fall out onto the floor.

  2. Next remove four (4) slices of bread. My panini press can make two (2) panini at a time, so I need four (4) slices. This may vary. Math alert! To determine how many slices you need, count the number of forms in the press and use this formula: slices = forms x 2.

  3. Open one (1) of the bottles of beer and place it to the side of the preparation area. It should be as far as possible from the appliance, while still remaining within reach.
    Open Beer

  4. The instructions that come with the panini press say to remove the crust from the bread. I scoffed at this and chose not to (remember, I am a professional). I then did an experiment, where I tried it both ways. And they were right, the sandwich is better tasting without the crust. To remove the crust, lay the bread flat on your food preparation surface and use the butter knife to cut around the edges, just inside of the line where the dark part of the bread meets the light part. The leftover parts are safe to snack on and in fact can be used as hors d'oeuvres.

  5. Remove the lid from the margarine tub. If the tub is new, you may have to remove a foil or plastic liner as well.

  6. Take the butter knife and scrape out some margarine. Spread the margarine on to one side of each piece of bread. You don't have to be very neat or worry about filling all the bread-pores like you would when making toast, as the margarine will melt and get all over the bread for you.
    Buttered Bread Slices

  7. Place the bread in the press taking care to line the bread up with the forms. Make sure the buttered side is down. If you forget which side is buttered, drop the bread onto the floor. The side making contact with the floor is the buttered side.

  8. It is time now to place cheese on the sandwich. If the cheese packet is new, open it first. Many packets have a tab and the words, "Tear here" indicating that is where to tear. Others, however, might not and you may have to use scissors. Remove some of the shredded cheese and place it on the bread. The bread should be completely covered and the cheese should make a little hill in the center. If you spill any of the cheese shreds, they cannot be used, and should be snacked on.
    Open Here

  9. Take a sip now of the beer. Cooking is thirsty work.

  10. Use your butter knife again, this time to cut off some of the Gorgonzola cheese and put it in the middle of each little cheese hill. (You may have to open this package first as well, if so, see the instructions two steps up.)

  11. Add the ham cubes. The ham cubes should lightly cover the cheese which in turn is covering the bread. You may find it convenient to first smoosh the cheese hills into cheese plateaus in order to keep the ham cubes from rolling off. Be sure to snack on any spillage.
    Cheesy Landscape

  12. Prepare two (2) more slices of crustless, buttered bread and cover the cheesy landscape. This time the buttered side should be facing up.

  13. Activate the panini press. Mine is activated by placing the plug (the pointy bit at the end of the cord) into the power outlet. More expensive units may have a switch. If unsure, consult the manual.

  14. Close the lid. When cooking, this is how the panini press should look.

  15. Wait about five (5) minutes. This is a great time to sip some more beer.

  16. Remove the panini from the forms in the panini press and serve!
    Dinner is served!

  17. Repeat as desired. When finished, be sure to remember to deactivate the panini press by removing the plug from the power outlet. Should you forget to do so, most presses will remind you with an audible alert via your house's smoke alarm and by filling your house with a burnt Teflon smell.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Bratkartoffeln - the closest thing to authentic German food that one can, or would actually want to buy in Germany. Basically, it's sliced potatoes fried in a pan. Here at the Stiefel Bräu, they add Speck (yummy bacon) which is why their Bratkartoffeln gets to be in my blog and not that from the Wash Pub. Even so, it could be even better if they made it with cheese as well... oh but wait, in Saarland we aren't allowed to mix cheese and meat except at Christmas.

Now about the place. Stiefel Bräu is the only brewpub that I know of in Saarland and it has a very nice atmosphere. They have three beers, two of which are named Dunkeles and Helles on account that their colour is dark and light respectively. There is a third, seasonal, beer, which they sensibly name Saisonbier. Understand that Germans are an incredibly honest people, and would therefore find it immoral to give more imaginative names to such unimaginative brews. To be fair, this lack of originality is probably best explained by the fact that Stiefel Bräu is not a microbrewery at all, but is operated by Bruch's, the second largest brewery in Saarland. Even so, all three beers are far superior to the mainstream American swill and are certainly drinkable.

Restaurant:Gasthausbrauerei Stiefel Bräu
Location:Am Stiefel 2
66111 Saarbrücken
Phone:+49 (0)681 / 93-64-50
Date:7 November, 2010

Exotic Eastern Meal

Deep-Fried Breaded Chicken Breast with Rice and Urpils
Today we travel east, far east, to the distant land of Homburg, where we shall partake of such unheard of oriental delicacies as, Hünnerbrust paniert natur mit gebrated Reis und Urpils. Yes, it is so oriental cuisine! Can't you see the chopsticks?!

Asia Wok Restaurant:Asia Wok
Location:Talstraße 53
66424 Homburg
Phone:+49 (0)684 / 117-1275
Date:5 April, 2010
Cost:€7.80 (Urpis = €1.8)

Wally's Irish Pub

Guinness and Smokey Bacon Crisps

The best Irish pub in all of Saarland! Ok, it's the only Irish pub in Saarland and no-one really knows who Wally is. (The owner's name is actually Austin.) It's still a fine pub! The Guinness is actually cheaper than in Dublin and they have the best selection of whiskey that I've ever seen in any land. And what night of swilling Guinness and whiskey could be called complete without the magnificent artificial flavour of Smokey Bacon crisps?! (Don't answer, the question was rhetorical.)

Restaurant:Wally's Irish Pub
Location:Katholisch-Kirchstraße 1
66111 Saarbrücken
Phone:+49 (0)157 / 173-2621
Date:23 November, 2010
Cost:€4.50 for Guinness; only God and Wally actually know what the crisps cost.

The Fountainhead

Chips with cheese and bacon
Who says the English can't cook! Just take a look at the cheese on those fries, er, I mean chips! Add to that, they serve civilized drinks in England -- Yes, we're talking about ale and lots of it! The only negative thing of English haute cuisine is that in England highwaymen still abound; they have simply given up their steeds and pistols and now run pubs. The effect on the unwary traveler hasn't changed.

Restaurant:The Fountainhead
Location:102 North Road
Brighton, BN1 1YE
Date:7 October, 2010
Cost:£4.50 for the cheesey bacony chips and £6 for a very full glass of ale

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wash Pub!

This is more like it, dinner at the Wash Pub. The beer, I'm sure we are all familiar with so let's talk instead about the Kroketten. Kroketten are sort of like fried mashed potatoes. Ok, that's all I can think of to describe them, other than to say that they are yummy.(Wikipedia can tell you more.) The observant reader will notice the photos in both this post and the previous are taken outdoors. The weather was almost warm today and I am becoming a proper German and sitting outside at every opportunity. Oh, I hear cries from my readers, "Wait! Is the restaurant really named the Wash Pub?" Well, actually no. The real name is Nauwies. I call it that as next door is a laundromat. Naturally, on wash days, I can start the laundry and then a nice Guinness genießen while I wait. Besides, most everyone I speak to agrees that Wash Pub is a much better name. (Here is a photo of the laundromat just in case you think I'm lying.)

Restaurant:Nauwies aka Wash Pub
Location:Nauwieserstraße 22
66111 Saarbrücken
Date:24 March, 2010

Lunch at Uni

Ausländer Cafe

There are several places you can eat at Uni; this is the Ausländer Cafe, which is the best of the lot. Having said that, I'm sad to report to you, gentile reader, that this sandwich wasn't particularly satisfying. I have learned to order other things here which are far superior. (Be sure to add this RSS feed to your favorite reader so you don't miss the exciting update!) The sandwich was made with some sort of pink mystery meat. I left the green matter in so I wouldn't dwell too much on just what part of the animal I was actually eating. A little cheese would have been a welcome addition; however, Saarlanders have a peculiar aversion to mixing proteins in a sandwich it seems. Funny, they don't look Jewish. Even so, it did make the beer taste better. Speaking of which, this is a Bruch's, another local beer. I defy anyone to be able to distinguish between this and an Urpils.

P.S. Since I first posted this, I have grown rather fond of both Bruch's and Urpils. As to which anyone who has seen my kitchen can attest.

Restaurant:Ausländer Cafe
Location:Universität des Saarlandes
Gebäude A3 2
66123 Saarbrücken
Phone:+49 (0)681 / 302-3045
Date:24 March, 2010