Bremen trip June 2012 (continued)   5 comments

The rest of the week in Bremen was wrapped up in 9 and 10 hour work days running experiments in the lab followed by some experimental dining (with mornings and one afternoon either running or taking long strolls to cover a bit of the city and its outlying neighbourhoods, mapped above).  Our colleagues at the instrument manufacturer took us to a Turkish restaurant (Tendüre) that I would highly recommend (you could make a meal off the mezze, alone).

Left to my own devices for Wednesday night, I found a lovely Italian bistro called Pizzeria Cassetta in the Neustadt about a mile from the hotel (and a few doors down from the pool hall where I later watched the Spain v Portugal football match).  Cassetta looks like a neighbourhood bar but was packed largely on the merits of the cheap but incredibly authentic Italian food cooked by incredibly authentic Italian dudes.  I ordered a cuarto litro of the house Montepulciano and watched the service like it was a floor show.

I marveled as plate after scrumptious platter of fine Italian cuisine emerged from the kitchen where one busy chef plated like a machine.  When mine (a ziti with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, garlic and a cream-based tomato sauce) came out, it never saw what hit it as I devoured it and a second quarter liter of the house wine in mere minutes.  Wonderful and a perfect foil to the heavy German fare during the day.

I had less interest in watching the Italy v Germany match than in watching the German fans so I sought out a venue that would allow me to observe while I enjoyed my Thursday supper.  I have, in the past, sworn off and sworn at Mexican food in Europe but decided to give Mexcal, a restaurant I had spotted on a run earlier in the week, a shot.

Wonder of wonders, I was the only one of about 30 customers that wasn’t watching the game despite, wonder of wonders, this being the most authentic and delicious Mexican meal I have had outside of places in Nogales, South Tucson or, at a push, the Buford Highway Guatemalan/Mexican corridor in Atlanta.  Granted, the chiles were not hot but otherwise the spices were perfect.

My ‘taco’ had marinated grilled chicken slices and succulent beef along with mouth-watering shrimps.  The burrito was a complex and challenging compilation of chicken, beans that retained texture but were flavoured like delicate broth throughout, and rice that failed to be bland or dry.  The guacamole was made with sour cream instead of mayo and was, therefore, something I could (and did) slather on everything.  Wonderful.

German fans, watching their team getting their ass handed to them

Even more wonderful, the Germans like their beer cold and will serve it in pitchers (at a price about the same for 1.5 liters as two pints cost in Britain).  I was a bit dismayed by the claim, on the little collar/napkin on my glass, that König Pils is the king of beers, but I’ll let you decide who to follow:

Perhaps not so much “King of Beers” as the Kaiser:

I left Mexcal at halftime and the streets’ large beer gardens were still full of singing football fans, their collective voices eerily echoing all over the town centre.  I veered off toward the hotel a few miles away but soon needed a toilet and found refuge in a bar called Charly Treff, occupied only by two old dudes (one sewing buttons on a corduroy vest like those that appeared in several hundred photographs and artist renderings all over the walls of this weird little establishment).  The game was on the tele when I returned but no one was watching with the home squad behind 2-0.  I had a beer and then completed my journey home for the night.

Charly Treff from Google street view (it was dark out when I tried, and failed, to get a good photo on my own)

Charly Treff bathroom: any place that has a puke sink fitted to the bathroom wall is alright by me!

The last day at the lab we had a breakthrough just before I left to do a couple of hours worth of daytime tourism before my flight.  I ventured up as far as the Hauptbahnhoff, a marvelous example of rail station architecture, then continued north to the Bürgerpark looking for a beer garden (yet finding none that really called my name).

The Germans of the modern world are much more accepting of alternative lifestyles, I believe, since on the search for a tram back to the centre I spotted a designated alley to cruise men:

In town, the area called the Schnoor is a network of medieval streets too small for most motor vehicles and, as I learned, overrun with tourists during the day.  This was a shame since I had spotted many good bars on evening runs (when the tourists give way to the local populace) and only had the will to venture as deep into their midst as Gasthof zum Kaiser Friederich, about 100 meters from my tram.  Still, a very tall, very cold, very refreshing glass of witbier suited my temperament and fortified me for the trip home.

Not really hungry when I arrived at Bremen Airport, I opted for lunch when I realised the place in there was preparing the pasta to order with a real chef tossing the noodles with one of about 15 sauces of your choice.  The line was big so I ordered two glasses of wine to get me through the wait and the dining…and this was almost too much except that the food was better than I would have expected in a restaurant OUTSIDE the airport.  What a treat!  I will miss this city until I get another chance to explore it in more detail….

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