Schinken-Schweinehaxe "Zum Schiffchen"
It is hard to believe that is has been almost one year since my last visit to Europe, but I can be only so many places (generally one) at a time. In nine days business took me to the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Sweden, and then back to Germany and the Netherlands.
But even in the, at times, challenging schedule of a business trip, I try, as much as possible, to find some connection to nature, hunting, fishing and the outdoors. And that started in my dinner at Vitali's in Gelsenkirchen where I had wildschwein or wild boar for dinner pared with a good, and reasonably inexpensive, bootle of Primitivo red wine.
A couple days later in Izmir, I was reminded that Turkey is one of the best countries in the world to eat fish, which is multiple ways is the center of the local delicious and healthy "Mediterranean Diet". As I don't speak Turkish it is almost impossible for me to remember the name of the different fishes we had, but is easy to remember that the meals were pared with healthy amounts of Yene Raki, and I drink it in the proper way: pour the Raki to about a third of a tall narrow glass, add water almost to the top, and then ice. The other of the factors is all important.
The time in Sweden was way too short to even try a proper meal, but I had a very flavorfull sandwich at the Arlanda International Airport. Anyhow, as we were speeding down the highway to Södertälje I noticed a tree stand overlooking an automatic deer feeder, and a short time after that I saw three or four deer in a field. Probably the Swedish hunter will be shooting a 6,5x55 mm rifle instead of a .270 Winchester or a .30-06, but that could almost be a post card from Michigan.
Back to Germany, and we landed in the beautiful and reliable Düsseldorf International Airport, where I was to spend my weekend. On Friday night I was just too tired even to go out to dinner, so I had a protein bar and crashed, but Saturday was a different story!
The weather could not have been any better. Bright blue sky and temperature reaching up to 20C/68F, made the Altstadt an irresistible attraction for people. My first stop was at one of the local cutlery shops, then I went to pay my respects to the fast flowing Rhine, the vibrant economic arthery that connects the industrial heart of Germany to the Atlantic. A relative short walk away was the Church of Saint Lambertus and its magnificient art work. Around noon I could not resist any longer and had a couple of the excellent and fresh local Altbier at Uerige Hausbrauerei.
Lunch was nothing more than a large bratwurst held by a small crisp bread bought at a farmer's market right in front of my hotel, and I ate it on the go while I walked to the high end Königsalle to visit Frankonia, which I could describe as Germany's Cabelas. Hunting is really an elitist sport in Europe, and the prices reflect that. I engaged in small talk with the gun counter salesperson and he sort of pissed me off a bit by mentioning the German hunting tradition as something far superior to the way we hunt in the United Stated, especially considering that we wear camouflage! I know several other European hunters and I know that they do not share the same opinion.
Coming back to the Altstad I found the crowd almost unbearable and longed for my much quieter Old Mission Peninsula. The only thing I could do to save my sanity was to go back to the hotel and sleep for a couple hours, and when I woke up it was much quieter and I walked the two blocks to Brauerei zum Schiffchen which has been serving locals and visitors, including a certain Napoléon Bonaparte since 1628. It is pretty clear that they have learned with time, and the schweinehaxe mit sauerkraut und bratkartoffeln (porc nuckles with cabbage and home fries) was a fantastic ending to a long day.