Saturday, August 20, 2011

Die Grüne Bettlad, Bühl

Ahhhh to be 18....again. There's a point in a woman's life ( probably after celebrating   her 18th b-day , for the **th time) when weighing scales, mirrors and occasional throbs of headache in the morning tops her chart of most hated nemesis. That's how it is to me, anyway. Another year older and I asked myself again, how did life treated me in the previous  year?  Life's jolty ride sometimes gives me occasional abrupt sways,a  little too hard. Some  people read chicken soup for the soul, I don't. I sit ,I contemplate and talk  myself off the ledge. So when the road I took, leads me to a particularly bumpy and   narrow end, I often say to myself, everything's going to be alright.  So how did I thrive   this year?

Gained another kilogram: check! Greying hair,check! Deepening wrinkle crease between the eyebrows,check!( Why  don't I get a laugh line instead?)  Worsening eyesight, check .Bad hair day...almost every day, check! Mild hearing impairment...gulp, check! Then reality hits me. Procrastination had  unconsciously invaded my system and is now running through my veins! I'm getting superficial , old and superficial! I put too much value at things that are of less importance. With millions of people and children across the globe,  getting all emaciated and hungry, I worry too much  about my excess baggages that was caused by enjoying food,  a little too much.  I should be more grateful. Grateful   for having a roof over my head,  for  having a job that sustains my needs   and yes for having a full square meal and a snack a day.

Thinking about the things that I have,do makes me feel  grateful. My life is devoid of flair and luxury, sloping a bit to occasional boredom but there's still a lot in it to be gracious and happy about. To be  alive , healthy and up and about is a wonderful gift in itself.  I guess realization and acceptance comes a tad bit easier with age. Well, at least that's in my case. To prove that, I decided to have a quiet and intimate celebration with FF. No big crowd,no fancy dress, no candle blowing or  cake slicing, oh ho! No howling of happy birthday song and no party! Just a simple but nice evening together and I would not have it any other way.

FF got to choose where we will dine. He brought me here, Die Grüne Bettlag in Bühl, a 400 year old half timber house turned hotel and restaurant that's  almost hidden in the  outskirts of  our neighboring town.  It looks inconspicuous from the outside but  it is famous for serving good  food. When you are in Germany, reputation  precedes you and in the restaurant  business, sometimes, it is all that matters. A restaurant might be perched on top of an active volcano about to spit liquid, molten  lava but if it makes very good gulasch , then people will still look for it.

Stepping into this restaurant is like getting inside a doll house. The wall and low ceiling is filled with versatile collection of artistic woodworks,  intricately detailed porcelain wares, painting and playful ornaments that are both catchy and unique. Each piece different, somehow miss matches the other,  yet each element contributes an  allure and perkiness to the whole place.

In Grüne Bettlag, they do pay a lot of attention to details. The copper plated ornamentation, gives the olive green wall an interesting contrast. A takure (Kettle) as an over head lamp and a vintage, brass, coal-filled iron  as side lamp? I gave them an A for the shere dare and yes, creativity. The whole place is packed with things both entertaining and interesting without making you feel constricted, on the contrary it creates a sense of coziness.

 Service was in my opinion, a bit impersonal, far from engaging but efficient, however we did not come here to make the owner and waitress our new bestfriend. We came here to enjoy good food. Menu is limited, with only few dishes per course. Although choices are rather scarce,what they make, they make it very well.

Amuse bouche of thinly sliced, lightly smoked poultry with a savory  tuna infused sauce. An interesting  concoction . The sauce is both thick and a bit grainy with a very subtle hint of tuna flavor. We got a basket of bread , still a bit warm and  judging from its crispy crust and  oven fresh smell, it was  freshly baked. 

  The Starters
Hausgemachte Gänseleberterrine mit Schwarzwälder Kisrchwasser mariniert 

FF's first course:  Foie Gras terrine marinated in Black Forest Kirschwasser served with green salad. The thick slab of goose liver had a strong hint of the regional Schnaps. Too much for a non alcohol drinker like me. I usually wouldn't pass on a foie gras dish, but after reading what goes with this delicacy, I did not dare order. FF on the contrary enjoyed it, claimed that it was rich, smooth and a bit too heavy . To tweak the dish a bit, he ordered a glass Gewürztraminer Auslese. A refreshing  , sweetish white wine that goes wonderfully well with  foie gras . A homemade and warm buttery broiche was served with this course.

Ragoût von Krustentieren in Krustentiersauce mit Maultäschle

Crustacean ragout in crustacean sauce served with  pasta square. Holy broccoli! As it reaches our table, served in plate as wide a  family sized  pizza and scalding hot that  it slowly steams my mascara away as I look at it transfixed, I know  that this, will be my favorite meal of the night. How do I describe it? Chunky! The crustaceanssshalleluya are generously portioned, fresh and exquisitely flavored. There's smorgasbord of lobsters and big prawns and things pale, peeled ,cooked and inviting,  I want to weep. For once, I got to enjoy crustaceans without battling with its protective cocoon, that never cease to shield the animal from within, even if its dead and slathered in savory bisque. I don't know about you, but I hate the tedious work of peeling shrimps, lobster, not to mention the delicious but hard shelled crabs, especially if there's hot and thick sauce involve. Throw in FF's order, who for the love of Cleopatra, would not touch his food with his bare hands even if his life depends on it, it often put my appetite off  seafood dishes.Emily the humanoid crustaceans sheller, is having a day off  today, if you catch my drift. This is such a treat. FF had a glass of Chardonnay with this dish, I had my usual: diet coke, connoisseur...not!

The main dishes

Lammrückenscheiben vom irischen Lamm an Pinien-Kräuterkruste mit Gemuse und Kartoffelgratin

Me: How was your lamb?
FF:  Good
Me: How was the sauce?
FF: Good.
Me. Is it tender?
FF: Yes.
Me: Is it done right?
FF: Yes.
Me. No hint of gameyness in it?
FF: Huh?

A man of few words, that's my husband. I guess his main course , Saddle of Irish lamb  with pine and herb crust,served with vegetable and potato gratin,was really good since he cleaned it all up, down to the last speck of rosemary leaf in no time. I did not give it a try even if he offered me a bite since I am not a big fan of lamb. I was  also struggling to finish my own dish.

Wolfsbarschfilet mit Safransauce, Nüdele, Tomaten und Zucchini

 Seabass filet in saffron sauce served with pasta , tomato and zucchini . No over the top presentation or fancy but what-did-I-just-order?- name, but a dish so simple yet so satisfying. The blend of flavors of pan fried fish fillet and saffron and tomatoes are already waltzing in my palate  long before it reaches our table.  My anticipating gustatory imagination did not steer me wrong. It tasted   just the way I imagine it would taste like, and it did not disappoint my tastebuds.  Each element in this dish spruce up something good in itself. The pasta was cooked al dente, half submerged and already drenched in saffron sauce. Tomatoes and zucchini remained crisp and almost crunchy and the seabass, oh my seabass.   Perfectly fried , laying almost lovingly on a blanket of sublime yet  savory golden sauce looking all defeated ,offering and calling out, ''eat me I'm all yours!''. I dig in, but two thick fillets are more than what I could handle. FF gladly finished off the third for me. Again, we don't have the heart to throw away food. It's like a principle, in respect for those who haven't got any on their table.

The Desserts

Gratin von frischen Früchten und eine Kugel Nusseis

Fresh fruit gratin served with  walnut ice cream (no picture, FF's  too fast to wolf it down before I could even say cheese:-) The gratin turned liquid once
scooped by a spoon. Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and thin slices of pears are buried in hot and vanilley pudding like treasures.

Gewürz crème brûlée mit Fruchtsorbet

The fruit sorbet was refreshing, cool and have a nice textural pop. An excellent palate cleanser. It was served with few fresh berries for a soury kick which was mellowed down by a dust of powdered sugar. The Spiced creme brulee give my all time favorite dessert a nice twist. Along with the usual flambe sugar, there's a duster  but not overpowering hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices I could not name.I still prefer my creme brulee, plain and classic, though.

On the house dessert treat, strawberry tarts and German cheesecakes. Served on a miniature icon die Grüne Bettlag which actually means the green four postered bed. A nice personal touch and a good way to end our meal!
 What do yah know, I did have  a Happy Birthday after all. Looking forward for the year ahead.

Grüne Bettlag
Blumenstraße 4
Bühl, Baden
07223 93130

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