Bratislava – August 2013

Bratislava – August 2013

Historic steam locomotive in Slovak Technical Museum, Transport Museum, Bratislava

Historic steam locomotive in Slovak Technical Museum, Transport Museum, Bratislava

Bratislava is about 60 Km from Vienna. It’s easy to get to using the railroad or by boat on the Danube. On Saturday I visited the transportation museum, adjoining the central station. They had a couple of restored steam locomotives out back (one of my favourites in the photo above) and lots of cars indoors.

After about an hour I walked into the city to meet some friends for dinner in the brew pub Starosloviensky Pivovar. The pub specialises in local sheep cheese and we tried three variations, all were very good. The beer was fresh and excellent. After dinner I took a short walk through the city and headed back to the railway station for the return trip to Vienna.

There is an inexpensive rail ticket from Vienna: round trip for 15 Euro including one day of public transport in Bratislava (Bratislava Ticket from Austrian Federal Railways – OeBB). The boat trip is quite cool and a nice way to see the scenery.

My Google Map of Bratislava.

My photos of Bratislava on Flickr.

Andy’s beer rule

Andy’s beer rule

Trumer Pils at Gaumenspiel Restaurant Vienna

Trumer Pils at Gaumenspiel Restaurant Vienna

Here’s a good tip for choosing a restaurant or cafe in German-speaking countries: Find out which type of beer they are serving.

First, most all beer in Austria is good, nothing like industrial brew from the USA, but there is a difference.

Second, beer companies subsidise restaurants for the costs of installing the beer taps and equipment, and then require the restaurant to serve only their (and jointly owned) beers.

This means that restaurant owners face a real decision on which beer to serve. It’s not like the USA where you can go to a bar and find 20 different types of beer on tap.

So, the rule:

Look for a restaurant serving a good beer, it’s very likely that the food will be good too.

What’s a good beer? One of the best in Austria is Trumer Pils. I’ve never found Trumer Pils in a bad restaurant, and in fact, almost all the restaurants I have eaten in that serve Trumer Pils are excellent. Since I’m a big fan, in 2009 we visited the brewery in Obertrum am See (Salzburg Land) and took a one-day brewing workshop. Here’s my Blogger Post on the Trumer Creativ Braueri.

As I said, there are lots of other good breweries in Austria. Like the USA, it’s probably no surprise that many of these breweries are small and privately owned, not big and corporate-owned.

So, while almost all the beer in Austria is good, look for one of the smaller breweries and you probably won’t go wrong.

Add your favourites in the comments!

Trumer Pils at Gaumenspiel Restaurant Vienna

Beer and Pizza in Amsterdam

't Arendsnest Amsterdam - 2
Partial list of the Dutch draft beer available at ‘t Arendsnest

Beer and pizza are two of my favorite things. After a full day attending the Social Cities of Tomorrow conference in Amsterdam, I took a leisurely walk back to my hotel through the Jordaan district of the city.

't Arendsnest Amsterdam - 4
IPA type beer at ‘t Arendsnest

I was lucky to find the ‘t Arendsnest beer bar which serves “Dutch beer only!” from seemingly most of the beer brewers in The Netherlands (although I did not notice any Heineken there?). They have 30 or so beers on tap and over 100 in bottles including a selection of Dutch abbey beers. I didn’t realize that The Netherlands also had abby breweries (they are not all in Belgium).

I tasted two pilsner type beers and an India Pale Ale, all three were draft. All three were really good, very hoppy and clean tasting. They have a beer sampler for 7.50 Euros for three 12cl tastes, but I ordered normal size 25cl glasses and wound up paying 10 Euros with tip. Both bar tenders were fluent in English and happy to guide me to the right beers. They have some ‘bar food’ and many of the locals shared cheese plates, but the food did not seem to be the main point here! They also have tastings and things so it would be worth checking he website to learn if something interesting is going on when you visit.

After my beer I remembered walking by what looked like a great pizza place the day before: it had a wood burning oven, only served pizza and advertised “Italian slow food”. So I decided to try and find it again. I retraced my steps, found the right canal (Prinsengracht), turned down the Elandsgracht (Jordaan Park), left on 1ste Looiersdwarsstraat walked to number 4 and Pazzi was open with room at the bench they have for people who want to eat their pizza in the shop.

Pazzi Amsterdam - 2
Blackboard menu at Pazzi Italian slow food Amsterdam

I ordered a Margarita, the pizza I use to compare pizzerias, and sat down to wait. About 3 minutes later I was served a great pizza: crisp thin crust, tart sauce, good amount of buffalo milk mozzarella cheese. By this time I was sharing the bench with a couple women who were splitting a quatro formaggio (served here with rucola) and two guys on my right who had both ordered Piccante pizzas. Apparently the Piccante pizzas were not spicy enough for the guys and they asked me to pass the hot pepper olive oil (that’s when I asked them what kind of pizza they had since it was not entirely clear by looking).

Pazzi Amsterdam - 3
Piccante pizza at Pazzi Italian slow food Amsterdam

I finished my Margarita and decided to order one of the Piccante pizzas too. After all, when’s the next time I will be in Amsterdam. As the guys were leaving they gave me back the hot pepper oil, but told me to be sure to taste the pizza first because it might be spicy enough for me without the oil. The Piccante pizza was also great. It had smoked mozzarella cheese, lots of hot pepper (no need for the hot pepper oil) and herbs. Really fine. (I brought half the pizza home.)

So, a fabulous gourmet evening for me in Amsterdam! All my photos from ‘t Arendsnest and Pazzi on Flickr. My Amsterdam photos on Flickr.

But, what about the beer?

But, what about the beer?

Munich Victualmarkt Feb08-08

Beer from wooden keg, der Pshorr, Munich, from my flickr Munich photos.

Monocle recently ranked Munich the world’s most livable city. I love Munich and I think that the Monocle video presents a very nice view of the city.

I was particularly struck by the comments from BMW’s head of design, Adrian van Hooydonk. In the video he says Munich doesn’t take energy from you (the way living in many cities does) but gives you energy (about 3 minutes into the video). I remember thinking something similar when I first visited in the 1980s … waiting for the U-Bahn, which was clean, fast and reliable as clockwork, I thought how nice it must be not to have to worry about public transport … a real difference from most big cities. This frees up energy for creativity.

My only complaint about the Monocle video is that it did not mention beer, and, for me at least, the beer in Munich tastes better than anywhere in the world. My posts and recommendations for Munich.

Munich update

Munich update

I visited Munich last week and had a great time. I re-visited my favorite “bio” lunch stand at the Viktualienmarkt, then headed to the nearby Stadtmuseum (City Museum) for a very nice exhibit called “Typisch München!” … not enough on Munich food and beer for me, but otherwise fine (here’s the German description). They had the Munich medieval period city model on display in the exhibit. More on city models here.

It was a dreary rainy day, so after walking around a bit I decided to head to the Munich Film Museum, which is in the basement of the Stadt Museum. They were showing an American film called “The Lusty Men” about rodeo cowboys. It was really good, I learned a lot about rodeos and the film itself was excellent.
I had dinner at one of my favorite Munich restaurants Der Pschorr located at the edge of the Viktualienmarkt. I had Sauerbraten with a knodel and rot kraut (red sauerkraut), the food, and the draft helles beer from a wooden keg was fantastic as always.

On my return trip (I flew to the USA via Munich), I stopped for lunch at the Augustiner Keller brewery, which is about 400 meters from Munich’s main train station (I was taking the train back to Vienna). I had the lunch special: hackbraten (meat loaf) with spatzle and the JW Augustiner Edelstoff beer. Also very tasty … what is it that makes beer taste so good in Munich? Let it suffice to say that I had a relaxing trip back to Vienna!

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