Brillobox

Thursday was an adventure night in Pittsburgh. It was Miriam’s 21st birthday (woot woot!) so I took her out for a drink. I am not very familiar with the bar scene in Pittsburgh because I have not been in the city very long since being 21. Quite frankly I have not even been 21 that long. In case you were wondering, my half-birthday just recently passed. Happy half-birthday to me! Anyway, since I didn’t really know the best place to go I resorted to searching the internet for help. I cross referenced a few websites and ultimately decided on Brillobox. It is located at the corner of Penn Street and Main Street. Just up the hill from lovely Lawrenceville.

Brillobox was small and quaint with an easy-going hipster vibe. They were playing indie rock faintly in the background and had halloween decorations adorning the walls and the ceilings. There was a very respectable number of people there. Some were just drinking and others were dining as well. We didn’t order any food but the menu was filled with very appetizing items. I intend to go back some day to have some food along with my drink. They also have a room down a floor that features bands of all sorts. From what I gathered on their website and in the bar they have nightly entertainment. I intend to go back to see a concert there as well.

The bar featured between 12 and 15 specialty beers on tap. In addition to that they had 2 pages printed up in the menu solely for bottled specialty beers. How fabulous. A few of them were locally made too I believe. Miriam and I both ordered the pumpkin ale they featured on tap. They served it to us in a glass rimmed with brown sugar. Yum. It was a refreshingly light colored beer. I could often taste the pumpkin as well as hints of spices like nutmeg. It was quite tasty.

Once finishing our beers we decided to head home. It was just a Thursday night after all. I do intend to add the Brillobox to my list of places to return to. Maybe next time I’ll go on a night the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing and watch the game on the large screen as I sip on my pumpkin ale. Or maybe I’ll try something new. Only time will tell.

Here is the link to their website if you are interested in checking it out!  http://www.brillobox.net/

Advertisements

Astonishments and Observations

As I type this I am sitting on my awfully long 7-hour flight from Frankfurt to Boston. I’ve only been in the air for a little over an hour and I am already sore and achy, way beyond sick of sitting. I am just waiting for them to serve us our hot meal so I can take a nap and hopefully knock off some of the remaining hours in my sleep. The British versions of the magazines that I bought in the Dresden airport can only hold my attention for so long. I have had a good amount of time to think of things that I noticed while living in Dresden that may or may not be unique to the area but they definitely caught my attention as something noteworthy that I wish to share with you.
1. There is a very high level of trust in people. Starbucks (which I only went to because they provided free internet) gives you real mugs and plates if you are dining there. The window in my apartment on the 17th floor of the building had no safety mechanisms on it of any sort. It was very large, about a 5’ square, and swung all the way open. It would be so unbelievably easy for someone to exit out the window. I guess German students are always happy?
2. You can get a delicious meal for less than 3 Euros on almost any street: BRATWURST
3. As I mentioned in an earlier post, German have absolutely no fashion sense. I wonder if they even know what fashion sense is.
4. Beer is cheaper than water. True story. They would rather you be drunk than hydrated. The beer gardens in the Herbsmarkt charge you a glass deposit and if you return the glass after you are done with your beer in you get a few Euros back.
5. It is not against the law to carry open alcohol containers around in public places. What freedom.
6. My mom noticed that many restaurants with outdoor seating areas had heat lamps and blankets folded over the chairs for diners to use if they get too cold. I guess Germans will eat outside until their limbs fall off from the cold.
7. Bikes are everywhere to be seen. Helmets, not so much.
8. Everyone in Germany eats ice cream all the time. (When I say everyone I really do mean everyone.)
9. There is one whole aisle (out of 6) in the supermarket devoted to chocolate and another whole aisle with sweets that do not contain chocolate. And the chocolate overflow that didn’t fit in the other aisle. The other are divided as such: One for powdered cappuccino powder, instant coffee, and cereal. One for baking goods, pasta, rice, and other cooking needs. One for canned and jarred foods. Lastly, one for beer, wine, and spirits. The walls of the store are lined with yogurts, cheeses, and meats. The produce section is a little block when you first walk in with a very sad assortment and even sadder quality. Some veggies that I bought went bad in my fridge within 2 or 3 days. So sad. I can’t wait for fresh produce.
10. Nutella and hazelnuts are everywhere. No complaints.
11. Church bells chime at the most random inexplicable hours of the day and night.
12. Even Germans that claim to know only “a little” English can carry on a conversation without much struggle. I can’t even count the words I know in German on both hands. Okay, maybe I do need to add a few toes in there. I know nothing about verbs though so that stops all complete sentences in their tracks.
13. They don’t put ice in their sodas.
14. Apples juice comes in two different forms. From red apples or from yellow/green apples. Sorry to say I did not try them to taste the difference. I can tell already that is going to be one of my big regrets in life.
15. Bees are everywhere.
16. Flies somehow appear indoors out of thin air.
17. Babies and toddlers are in abundant supply. I don’t know why but I feel like I saw several each day and that I only see one maybe two, if that, a day in America.
Well that sums it up for now. I am sure there are more but that is all I was able to whip out at this time.
I succeeded in taking a nap. 2 hours gone and just over an hour and a half until touchdown in Boston. Could this day get any longer? I have been awake for 12 hours already and have another 9 until I get home. I’m thinking another nap on the flight from Boston to Pittsburgh.

Parental Visit

The rents arrived for a visit yesterday morning. Fun times! I first met up with them outside the Semperoper yesterday around 2:30 after I was finished with my rehearsals for the day. Being without any form of communication with each other in Germany except for speaking face to face we planned our meeting place the day prior before they had left America. The plan was to meet either outside the theatre or back in the lobby of the hotel. Not knowing which place they would be I came out of rehearsal into the “platz” with my eyes peeled. I slowly swerved my way around hoards of tourists to finally find them standing along the far side of the platz with the same searching eyes. I took them back to see my apartment (and so I could shower) and then we headed to Neustadt to check out an interesting store that the guidebook recommended. It was a quaint wine and cheese store that was decorated wall to wall lovely painted tiles. Along with a large assortment of cheese, wine, and other milk products another room in the store sold random little trinkets and a few gift boxes with strawberry wine and jams. Tasty. They sadly do not allow pictures and, as witnessed, will not hesitate to remind you if they see you pulling out your camera to take one. Before leaving we bought a small piece of Camembert and part of a loaf of walnut bread for a late afternoon snack/very early appetizer, depending on your point of view. It was sublime. After we finished our snack we headed back to Alstadt for dinner at Max. It was a simple restaurant with a simple interior and simple food. Don’t mistake and of the simplicity for lack of quality though. It was all delicious. From the local draft beer, the tomato soup and the pork with potato pancakes to the smoked salmon, the grilled vegetables and the olives everything was quite tasty. After dinner M & D headed back to their hotel for a long restorative sleep.

Day 2: Saturday. I had a short morning at ballet. As we arranged prior to parting the night before, my parents and I met up at 11:30 at their hotel. We had lunch at the Herbstmarkt that has been set up in Altmarkt Platz for almost a month now. I had currywurst with pommes (my first), Dad got bratwurst with sauerkraut and potatoes and Mom got a picked herring sandwich. The currywurst was basically just a cut up bratwurst with some type of curry like sauce poured on it. I added fries on the side. They were made fresh to order too. The bratwurst is cooked at any time and just kept warm if it is not sold right away but they make the fries to order. I had to wait an extra 5 minutes or so before I got my lunch just for the fries. But hey, I’m not complaining!

Our next stop was the Hygiene Museum on the outskirts of the Grosser Garten. Don’t let the name fool you, this museum had nothing to do with soap or handy wipes or hand sanitizer. No no no. The stationary exhibit has features on the human body, inside and out, germs, food, the brain, sex, limb deformities, eyes and ears, and beauty and appearance. The temporary exhibit featured artwork from different time periods of artists attempts to capture human expression and the first few images and artist renderings of the brain and its inner workings. Very interesting indeed.

For dinner we headed to another guidebook recommendation that I have had my eye on since I got to Dresden but never made the trip to. The brenNessel is an adorable little restaurant hidden among houses and the Dresden School of Music. Everything on the menu was vegetarian. And everything on the menu was only written in German. It was an adventure just translating let alone deciding what we were in the mood to eat. We figured most of it out (with a little help from out waitor) and made some very delicious decisions. We all shared two salads to start. The first had a coleslaw type base and was topped with apple slices, walnuts, and the biggest green grapes I have ever seen. The second had a small bed of arugula underneath a generous mound of roast beets and large clumps of goat cheese. The beets had some sort of sauce on them that somewhat resembled the color of Pepto-Bismol but was not in anyway unappealing. For the main course we ordered three entrees that we were all interested in and split them each three ways. Entree number one was a roulade. Cabbage rolled with some sort of grain on the inside topped with a fresh tomato sauce. On the side were large roasted potatoes with rosemary and a small green salad. Yum. Entree number two was a pasta dish. Penne with mushrooms and cubed apples tossed in a creamy gorgonzola sauce. Double yum. Entree number three was rice, chickpeas and eggplant with curry spices baked in a casserole dish with a layer of sheeps cheese and a few cashews on top. Triple yum! All three had such different flavors but not one was any better or worse than the last. They were all exceptional. I’m just sad I didn’t make the trip to this restaurant sooner because I would love to go back! I did take home the part of the rice/curry/eggplant/cheesy deliciousness that we got too full to finish and I can’t wait to enjoy it a second time.

 

Double Market Day

What is there to do on a Sunday in Dresden? Not much. Not much at all. Most of the stores are closed all day long and ‘Dresdeners’ somehow remain hidden until the early hours of the afternoon. Where they are or what they are doing is far beyond me. Maybe they all need to sleep off their horrible hangovers from the barrel of beer each of them consumed the night before. I wouldn’t be surprised. (Beer is cheaper than water here. No joke.)

Thankfully as Hannah and I were the wandering around Neustadt (the part of Dresden north of the Elbe River) searching for a café, we came across an outdoor market. On our way home from the café we wandered in to see what goods it had to offer. It wasn’t a particularly large market, about 25 craft vendors and 5 or 6 food carts. It was rather peculiar though. The vendors were all selling essentially the same things: ceramic mugs, dishes, pots, and bowls. The only difference from stall to stall was the decoration and the style of the items.

I wonder if it was a special ceramic festival or something because that truly was all that was there. There were 2 stalls selling beads, but I bet those were ceramic too. Hey, maybe when Germans have had too much beer they turn ceramic making into a party game then just sell off their excess to pay for more beer. (Not a bad idea actually.)  As we were wandering around the ceramics we passed by a food cart selling bratwurst and I decided it was time. Time to have my first wurst. I negotiated the entire transaction in German too. “Eins bitte. Ja. Ja. Danke.” Success. The wurst came fresh off the grill and was nestled into a bun. After asking me for approval, the “chef” then laid a line of mustard along the wurst. The meat stuck out a good 3 inches from the bun on both sides. A perfect way to ensure that the eater will enjoy the bratwurst in is pure, delicious untouched form. That was one of the best sausages I have ever had. The soft and incredibly flavorful inside pleasantly exploded from the crunchy casing when you bit into it. Then add the plain fluffy bun around the outside for the last few bites. Pure bliss.

 

After I recovered from the wonderment of my first (but not only) bratwurst, we headed home for some hydration and a little rest. About an hour and a half later we headed back out to explore market number 2. This market was in Alstadt (the other side of the river) in the Altmarkt. We have seen them setting up for a few days so we made it a destination for our weekend. This market was quite different. Thank goodness. The biggest change was where people were selling their goods. They upgraded from tables under tents to mini buildings. I can’t think of a better way to describe it really.

They were constructed out of wood. Each had a roof, a counter in front where the vendors displayed what they were selling, a room behind where they could stand, doors to get in and out of the back, and shutters to close them up at night. It was quite an ordeal. The items being sold ranged from ornate wood villages and doilies to leather purses and wallets to candy, spices, and dried fruits. There were a few repeats of course but overall the variety of goods being sold was infinitely better than at market number 1. There were also many more food choices at market number 2. The end of each row of buildings had a mini restaurant. There were picnic tables set up all around the plaza where folks were drinking and dining. The food being sold was classic German fare, bratwurst of all sorts, mushroom dishes, french fries (??), beer, some type of German doughnut, crepes (??), and ice cream. Germans eat a lot of ice cream. There are shops all over the streets and it is impossible to walk around Dresden in the afternoon and not see at least 20 people licking an ice cream cone.

I may have figured it out. The staples of a German diet necessary for survival are ice cream, bratwurst, and beer. (In no particular order of course.)