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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lunch In Heidelberg



View from the Inside Out

A Wine Worth Mentioning

The Superb Ravioli

The Equally Grand Goulash

Jump a smooth, immaculately kept train for pocket change, sit back, read and watch the beautiful countryside stream by.  Get off in one of Germany’s most picturesque cities, Heidelberg, complete with a swiftly flowing river, an ancient university and an ancient downtown to match.  Have a quiet, unhurried lunch at a quaint restaurant, with superb food and wine.  Stroll the cobblestone streets.  Ho-hum, just another weekend lunch trip in Deutschland.
I could go on and on about Heidelberg, (and probably will when you least expect it and don’t have time to avoid it) but the quick answer is, it’s best just to wander the streets in the old city and find your own special favorites.

  One of ours is a small hotel and restaurant very near Heidelberg’s cathedral, The Church of the Holy Spirit (circa 1398).  The Hackteufel (Devil’s Cut) has all you’d want for an intimate luncheon for two.  Reeking with ambiance and old world charm, you walk inside and feel as if you’ve just entered the dining room of your warmest and most comfortable dream.  Low, tasteful lighting.  Full, yet subdued decorations.  A buxom waitress….wait, a sec, I mean a very demure, but efficient waitperson, who knew everything on the daily menu and had tasted enough wine to make me wish I had been there. 
In Europe, the wine is every bit as important as the meal and rightly so.  The wine list is also longer than the menu.  My wife ordered a Spätbugunder (Pinot Noir) Weißherbst rosé and I got a Portugieser red wine.  Both were wonderful.  I’ve never seen my wife quite so ebullient over a wine.  “Try this!” she said loudly enough to make the chef quiche in his pants.  Last time this happened was in church during a particularly raucous communion.  I tried the Spät and it was all she said and more.  Smooth. Beautiful floral nose.  Mixed fruits giving it a bare edge of sweetness.
For the main course, my wife ordered a minced lamb stuffed ravioli, lashed with delicate bacon, onion cream sauce and lightly oven baked with a mild, semi-hard Italian cheese, accompanied by mixed greens with vinaigrette.   This was a far cry from the Chef Boyardee ravioli of my misspent youth.  Far cry?  I don’t think the transatlantic cable would stretch that far. Light, yet flavorful, it gave a new perspective to ravioli.
I had a mixed burgundy goulash on a nest of spaghetti noodles.  Tender. Savory.  Luscious for lunch or anytime anyone lends you a fork.  This was the ‘special of the day’ and special it was!  I like my meat one of two ways, rare, or cooked until it’s falling apart.  The goulash was the latter and moreover, the sauce complimented the richness of the meat instead of simply masking a cheap cut.  Every bite delicious.
This was a lunch to remember and repeat….often, in one of the most romantic cities on earth.

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